‘Skilled and committed workforce is crucial for NHS survival,’ says report

Hospital staff

Staff are essential to the future sustainability of the NHS, says a new report from the Lords Select Committee on the long-term sustainability of the NHS.

The report, published today (5 April), claims that the lack of a comprehensive long-term strategy to secure appropriately skilled, well-trained and committed workforce is ‘the biggest internal threat to the sustainability of the NHS.’ It recommends that the government takes steps to retain overseas-trained staff working in the NHS and social care, and provides reassurances about their future.

The report also recognises the impact on workforce retention of the prolonged period of pay restraint and of complex regulations and bureaucracy. 

The solution, the report states, is to set up an independent body for health and care responsibility, similar to the Office for Budget Responsibility. 

Responding to the report, Danny Mortimer said: 

"It is imperative the health and social care sector is able to attract and recruit the right staff in order to protect its future, whether that be from the UK or abroad.

"Managing pay costs remains a key part of meeting the financial and service challenges with which the health service as a whole is faced. Employers understand that a continuation of pay restraint over the longer term is of growing concern to our workforce."

Read Danny’s media response in full. 

Recommendations included in the report:

  • A tax-funded, free-at-the-point-of-use NHS is the most efficient way of delivering healthcare and should remain in place now and in the future. For that principle to remain, many aspects of the way the NHS delivers healthcare will have to change.
  • A political consensus on the future of the health and care system is needed and the government should initiate cross-party talks and a meaningful national conversation.
  • The lack of a comprehensive long-term strategy to secure appropriately skilled, well-trained and committed workforce is the biggest internal threat to the sustainability of the NHS.
  • There is an indisputable link between a prolonged period of pay restraint, over-burdensome regulation and unnecessary bureaucracy and low levels of morale and workforce retention. The government should commission an independent review to examine the impact of pay on morale and retention of health and care staff.
  • The health and social care systems are interdependent but poorly-coordinated. To allow money and resources to be used more effectively the budgetary responsibility for adult social care at a national level should be transferred to a new Department of Health and Care.
  • To reflect increased focus on integrated, placed-based care, NHS England and NHS Improvement should merge to create a new body with simplified regulatory functions and strong local government representation. 
  • The government should do more to incentivise the take-up of new approaches and make clear that there will be funding and service delivery consequences for those who do not engage.
  • Cuts to funding for the public health budget are short-sighted and counter-productive. National and local public health budgets should be ring-fenced for at least the next ten years. 
  • The NHS Constitution should be redrafted to emphasise that access to the NHS involves patient responsibilities as well as patient rights. 

Read the full report and its recommendations on the parliamentary website

You can also read the NHS Confederation's media response on the Confed's media centre pages

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