New measures to support the NHS workforce

Jeremy Hunt

A range of new measures aimed at supporting the NHS workforce were announced today (30 November) by Jeremy Hunt.

Speaking at the NHS Providers annual conference, the health secretary announced a number of workforce-related measures that focus on flexible working, career progression, leadership and doctors in training.

Key announcements:

  • Development of a ‘skills escalator’ to progress staff through entry-level apprenticeships to a nursing degree apprenticeship.
  • A requirement that, by the end of 2017, all trusts must be meeting the best practice on e-rostering, as outlined in NHS Improvement’s best practice guide.     
  • A new programme and review to encourage more clinicians to go into senior managerial roles.
  • A major review of the assessment and appraisal process for junior doctors, to make it simpler and more helpful.  

Other announcements include:

Career progression
  • The Department of Education has approved a degree-level nursing apprenticeship standard, which employers can offer to new or existing staff from September.
  • Work continues on the development of the apprenticeship standard for the new nursing associate role.
  • Proposals are in development for a progression path to help nurses reach advanced practitioner level.
  • The health secretary has written to the chair of the NMC to seek agreement to regulate nursing associates, with work starting as soon as possible on the necessary legislation.
  • The government will consult next year on whether the physician associate role should also be regulated.
  • The government is reviewing the viability of a career path for advanced nurse practitioners who wish to become doctors.

Flexible working
  • A requirement that all employers comply with established best practice on e-rostering.
  • A new best practice sharing initiative will be established, to allow trusts that are meeting the standard to share their knowledge with other organisations.
  •  A £1m GP Career Plus scheme, to encourage GPs who are close to retirement to remain in practice.

  • The NHS Leadership Academy is to send 30 students each year to world-leading universities (such as Yale), as part of a fast-track development programme to support more clinicians to move to senior management level.
  • HEE will consider whether doctors should be able to take clinical leadership as a specialism, and whether a dedicated programme is viable.
  • The NHS will partner with British universities to offer an NHS MBA for senior NHS professionals, with the first students enrolling in September 2017.
  • From 2018, HEE will double the number of places on the graduate management scheme.
Doctors in training
  • A review of the assessment process for doctors in training, intended to simplify the process and improve the educational experience of medical colleagues.
  • New HEE plans will better manage training and rotations to help couples who are training or who have caring responsibilities.
  • £10m funding will be made available to help HEE implement new programmes with the Colleges to improve support for doctors returning to training after maternity leave and approved time out.
  • HEE will work with the BMA, Royal College of Surgeons and a number of hospitals to explore whether a modern ‘firm’ structure might better support trainees.

Responding to the health secretary’s speech, our chief executive, Danny Mortimer, said:

 “We welcome Mr Hunt's focus on leadership and our workforce.  Employers across the NHS are committed to improving the working environment for their people and recognise the importance of providing rewarding careers supported by greater flexibility and effective team working.  The opportunities to develop apprenticeship routes into our largest profession, nursing, are particularly welcome.

“We look forward to continued support from national organisations to ensure the talents of our workforce are utilised to the maximum benefit of the patients they care for. 

"NHS Employers will continue to support NHS organisations by sharing practical examples of good practice, including those related to staff engagement, healthy workplaces, retention and diversity.”

Further detail about the new nursing apprenticeship is available on the website, while the HEE website has more information on the non-contractual doctors in training announcements. More information about the NHS MBA and graduate scheme is available on the NHS Leadership Academy website 

The speech in full is published on the website

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