National system leaders right to recognise the scale of workforce challenges facing the NHS

25 April 2019

Responding to the workforce speeches by Baroness Dido Harding and the health and social care secretary at the Royal College of Physicians conference, the chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson said:

“Trusts leaders tell us that the range of workforce challenges they face, centred on recruiting and retaining the right number of staff, are their number one concern. There is no single, quick solution to these problems. They have developed over several years and will require concerted, purposeful, action over a similar time period to start addressing them.

Trusts leaders tell us that the range of workforce challenges they face, centred on recruiting and retaining the right number of staff, are their number one concern. There is no single, quick solution to these problems.

Chris Hopson    Chief Executive

“The sentiment expressed today by both Dido Harding and Matt Hancock is very welcome recognition about the severity of the workforce challenges the NHS faces. You can’t solve a problem until you honestly and openly acknowledge its existence, scale and size.

We agree that solving these challenges isn’t just about future workforce planning and more money, important though these are.

Chris Hopson    Chief Executive

“We agree that solving these challenges isn’t just about future workforce planning and more money, important though these are. We welcome the emphasis on making the NHS a great place to work by supporting staff wellbeing and promoting flexibility and equality, as set out by the health secretary today. It’s also vital that we address the challenges in changing leadership culture and training a workforce equipped for the future. Trust leaders have a key role to play in each of these areas. You can’t solve a problem until you have the right strategy.

All of the NHS together must get behind a single, clear, approach and develop a unity of purpose which has been sadly lacking for far too long. We welcome the ongoing process to develop the new NHS workforce plan as it’s been much more inclusive and moved at a much faster pace than what’s gone before.

Chris Hopson    Chief Executive

“All of the NHS together must get behind a single, clear, approach and develop a unity of purpose which has been sadly lacking for far too long. We welcome the ongoing process to develop the new NHS workforce plan as it’s been much more inclusive and moved at a much faster pace than what’s gone before. It really has felt different. You can’t solve a problem in a system as complex as the NHS until everyone agrees to align behind a single plan and then everyone moves at pace to implement it.

“But we must also be realistic. There will be no single, quick, magic, fix. We all want to see more money, more staff and solutions to long running problems like pensions and immigration rules as quickly as possible. But given the timing of the spending review and the government’s focus on Brexit this was never going to be possible. We should welcome the collaborative work and progress that has been made to develop the forthcoming interim plan, rather than bemoan what it cannot contain at this stage.

“But these issues must be addressed in time for the final plan. That includes the right outcome for NHS education and training budgets in the forthcoming spending review.”

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