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NHS people plan: ICSs devolved greater workforce responsibilities

NHS people plan: ICSs devolved greater workforce responsibilities
By Valeria Fiore Reporter
3 June 2019

Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) will take on greater responsibility for local workforce planning, the interim workforce implementation plan has said.

The interim NHS people plan, released today, said that workforce priorities are specific to each area, and that it’s therefore logical for local health and care organisations to take responsibility for staffing strategies in their area.

Some workforce planning activities will still be carried out at a national level, when there are ‘clear benefits from a national role in standardisation’ or when planning is needed over a longer timeframe, for instance over 15 years, the plan – previously known as the workforce implementation plan – specified.

However, ICSs will take responsibility for workforce activities in cases where regional footprints are too wide to ‘affect change’, when ‘planning is needed over a short-to medium-term time-frame’ – such as one year or three years – or decisions need to be made across a local labour market, according to the plan.

NHS Improvement and NHS England are expected to produce an ICS maturity framework in 2019/20.

This will specify workforce activities in STPs/ICSs and outline the support local systems will receive from NHS England, NHS Improvement and Health Education England (HEE) regional teams.

ICSs’ role in workforce planning

The NHS people plan states that ICSs with ‘an appropriate population size and the necessary capacity and capability’ will be expected to:

  • Develop long-term ‘population-based workforce plans, working closely with primary care networks, providers, commissioners and local authorities’
  • Work with HEE on decisions such as doctor rotations
  • Take responsibility for aligning educational supply with local need
  • Implement system-wide leadership development
  • Reduce spend on temporary staff
  • Improve recruitment and retention by making their local NHS organisations a better place to work
  • Address potential workforce challenges arising within primary care networks and ensure they have appropriate leadership
  • Build HR relationships with local organisations

NHS Confederation, which in March advocated for greater workforce-related responsibilities to be delegated to ICSs, welcomed today’s announcement.

NHS Confederation chief executive Niall Dickson said: ‘We are delighted the plan responds so positively to our call for a much greater role for local leaders in workforce development.’

However, he said that ‘an effective workforce strategy will need investment’ and this should be ‘delivered in the next spending review’.

NHS England said that a full NHS people plan will be published after the spending review, ‘when the total investment available for education and training and for digital and capital transformation is due to be confirmed’.

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