Today, 30 June, NHS England has published its Long Term Workforce Plan which sets out how the NHS will address existing and future workforce challenges by recruiting and retaining thousands more staff and working in new ways to improve the experience of staff and patients.
Commissioned and accepted by the government, the plan provides a costed approach on developing the current NHS workforce to meet current and future demand and challenges and to support the health and wellbeing of the population. Over £2.4 billion has been committed on top of existing funding commitments to fund additional education and training places over the next five years. The three areas that NHS England have focussed on in the plan are:
Train: Substantially growing the number of doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and support staff. This is underpinned by a £2.4 billion funding commitment.
Retain: A renewed focus and major drive on retention, with better opportunities for career development and improved flexible working options. This comes alongside reforms to the pension scheme, with an aim to retain 130,000 staff working in the NHS for longer.
Reform: Working differently and delivering training in new ways. Advances in technology and treatments will be explored and implemented to help the NHS modernise and meet future requirements.
By significantly expanding domestic education, training and recruitment, we will have more doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals working in the NHS. The plan says it will:
- double the number of undergraduate medical school training places to 15,000 by 2031/32 with more medical school places in areas with the greatest shortages to level up training
- increase the number of GP training places by 50 per cent to 6,000 by 2031/32
- almost double the number of adult nurse training places by 2031, with 24,000 more nurse and midwife training places a year by 2031/32
- increase the number of advanced practitioners, independent prescribers, and allied health professionals (AHPs) acting as senior decision-makers in appropriate settings
- increase the proportion of training for clinical staff through apprenticeship routes by 2030
- launch a new medical degree apprenticeship
- expand dentistry places and consider how to incentivise dentists to offer more work to the NHS
- train more NHS staff domestically, reducing the reliance on international recruitment.
By improving culture, leadership, and wellbeing, we will ensure fewer staff leave the NHS over the next 15 years. The plans says it will:
- build on the actions from the NHS People Plan, to make the NHS People Promise a reality for our staff
- work to deliver the actions set out in the NHS equality, diversity and inclusion plan
- back plans to improve flexible opportunities for prospective retirees and work with government to deliver the actions needed to modernise the NHS pension scheme
- ensure NHS organisations across the country, from day one of employment offer people flexible working and the best possible start to an NHS career
- commit to ongoing national funding for continuing professional development for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals, so NHS staff are supported to meet their full potential
- reform how the NHS recruits staff, so that we offer a much better candidate experience, and support local jobs.
Working differently means staff can spend more time with patients, harnesses digital innovations and enables new and innovative ways of working. Training will be reformed, to give learners a better experience. The plan says it will:
- take advantage of digital and technological innovations, such as artificial intellegence, speech recognition, robotic process automation and remote monitoring to support the NHS workforce
- focus on expanding enhanced, advanced and associate roles to offer modernised careers, with a stronger emphasis on the generalist skills needed to care for patients with multi-morbidities, frailty or mental health needs
- encourage and support clinically-led work to consider how to make best use of new roles in clinical teams as they are brought on stream, to ensure they are a valued part of the wider multidisciplinary team
- explore measures such as tie ins to encourage dentists to spend a proportion of their time delivering NHS care
- work with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), General Medical Council (GMC) and others to reform education and training that learners have a good experience of training that prepares them for work in the NHS
- work with medical schools and the GMC to introduce four-year degree programmes and pilot a medical internship programme which could shorten undergraduate training time.
Read the full NHS Long Term Workforce Plan 2023 on NHS England's website.
We will work on developing further supporting materials and highlight where our existing resources can help you and your teams to develop your local plans to implement the Long Term Workforce Plan.
- NHS Long Term Workforce Plan 2023: what employers need to know - A briefing which highlights the key NHS Employers' resources and actions employers will need to take to implement the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan.
- NHS Employers' response to the plan.
- NHS Confederation's response to the plan.
- Read the Cavendish Coalition's response.