Workforce plan welcome but details will be crucial

29 June 2023

Responding to today's announcement of the first NHS long-term workforce plan, backed by the government, Sir Julian Hartley, chief executive at NHS Providers said:

"This plan must be a pivotal moment for the health service. Trust leaders across hospital, mental health, ambulance and community services are hopeful it will deliver on its promise to put the NHS workforce on a sustainable footing. They look forward to seeing the final details of the plan.

"Staff lie at the heart of everything the NHS does, but there is no denying that many are exhausted and burnt out under the weight of mounting pressure. National backing to expand recruitment and training, and retain and support staff, is therefore critical to ensure trusts can provide the best care for patients – now and in the future.

"The plan's emphasis on recruitment, training and retention will be hugely welcomed by trust leaders who are already working flat-out to support their staff. We eagerly await engagement on the plans for pension reform as well as for new approaches to training, skill mix and flexible working opportunities.

"We also need to see how this plan will affect different service providers. Mental health and community trusts have specific and significant staffing gaps needing focused intervention. Gaps in administration, IT and estate workforce – the backbone of the NHS – must also be addressed.

"The plan's ambitions are promising but the details will be crucial. We need to see how it will be funded and implemented, and there must be regular reviews and updates. The commitment to refresh it every two years is a good start.

"To be successful, the plan must also put emphasis on positive cultures and quality improvement in trusts."