As a recruitment agency dedicated to connecting talented healthcare professionals with rewarding opportunities in the National Health Service (NHS), we wanted to comment the recent news of the NHS's newly launched Long Term Workforce Strategy. This anticipated strategy, comprised of a hefty 151 pages, aims to address the continual workforce and skills shortages currently facing the NHS and ensure a robust and sustainable workforce across primary care.
In this blog, we delve into the key highlights of this long-term plan and its implications for GPs, Nurses, ANPs and other healthcare professionals. We will also address what this means for general practice and what the workforce strategy is lacking in its approach to retaining current primary care staff.
Train – Investment in training to grow the workforce.
There is a focus on increasing education and training, including the expansion of training routes across all professions within the NHS with aims to:
· Double medical school training places, total of 15,000 a year by 2031/32.
· Adult Nursing training places to increase by 92% in 2031/32 up to 38,000 places. With ambitions to work with 20% of registered nurses qualifying through apprenticeship routes (9% currently)
· Increase GP training places by 50% to 6,000 by 2031/32.
· Train more NHS staff domestically to reduce reliance on international recruitment and agency staff.
Retain – Embed culture and improve retention.
The NHS plans to keep more staff through things like better support and flexible working:
· Expand national funding for continual professional development for nurses, midwives, and all allied health professionals.
· Work with local leaders to offer integrated occupational heath and wellbeing services for all NHS staff.
Reform – Working & training differently.
The NHS plans to improve productivity through innovative training, building broader teams with flexible skills and offering availability of new technologies through:
· Focusing on advanced and associate level roles to modernise the profession including an increased importance of generalist and core skills needed to provide care.
· Increasing number and proportion of NHS staff in Mental Health, Primary and Community care by 73% by 2036/37.
Can the workforce plan stop GPs from wanting to leave?
Following the release of the NHS long term workforce plan, a select committee session was held on whether the strategy can meet the challenges facing the health service. Notable comments on this include RCGP chair Professor Kamila Hawthorne warning that the retention plan was ‘not nearly ambitious enough’ to stop GP’s leaving the profession. GPs are said to be leaving the profession at all ages, with the underlining issue being workload. Patricia Marquis, England director for the Royal College of Nursing said the workforce plan was full of “good aspirations” but lacking detail around retention and achieving the ambitious targets of increased student nurse numbers.
Writer and former doctor Adam Kay also gave evidence to the committee and shared his views on the area of retention calling it ‘achingly vague’.
What does the NHS long-term workforce plan mean for General Practice?
Some important takeaways for general practice in the NHS workforce plan include proposals to close the gap in GP demand through:
· Investment in training and development: ‘This Plan commits to initially growing GP speciality training by 500 places in 2025/26, timed so that more of these newly qualifying doctors can train in primary care. Further expansion of GP speciality training places will then take place with 1,000 additional places (5,000 in total) in 2027/28 and 2028/29.’
· Use of (SAS) Speciality and Associate Specialist Doctors particularly targeted towards general practice.
· Introduction of new roles into general practice and plans to ‘Extend the success of the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS) which has delivered an additional 29,000 multi-professional roles in primary care.’
· There are also hints in the report that there are plans to bring general practice and the delivery of community services closer together.
Our concerns as Medical Recruitment Partners to medical professionals and clients.
In the new NHS workforce strategy, there is a huge focus on training and development of new staff and additional roles, but increasing the number of people joining the NHS is only beneficial if we can reduce the number of people leaving. What is lacking, as mentioned by critics of this plan, is any concrete proposals to deal with the retention of GPs and Nurses, which has proven to be the biggest challenge for general practices over recent years.
The strategy marks a significant step towards creating a resilient and sustainable workforce in primary care. However, this is only the beginning and more needs to be achieved, with areas like retention and pay still yet to be addressed successfully, to ensure the NHS can function effectively and efficiently for all involved.
Read the full NHS workforce plan here: https://www.england.nhs.uk/long-read/accessible-nhs-long-term-workforce-plan/
Recruitment & Employment Federation https://www.rec.uk.com/our-view/policy-and-campaigns/government-and-campaigns/nhs-launches-much-anticipated-workforce-strategy?utm_source=recruiteremail&utm_medium=recruiter&utm_campaign=nhsworkforce
GP online: https://www.gponline.com/nothing-nhs-workforce-plan-stop-gps-wanting-leave-warns-rcgp-chair/article/1829860?bulletin=breakingnews&utm_medium=EMAIL&utm_campaign=eNews%20Bulletin&utm_source=20230712&utm_content=GPonline%20Breaking%20News%20(5)::www_gponline_com_article__1&email_hash=
Nursing times https://www.nursingtimes.net/news/workforce/nhs-workforce-plan-aspirational-but-lacking-detail-says-nurse-leader-12-07-2023/?eea=bUplRGtwZEZteC9pUXNWdWlRTTk2dThWNXdDUDI2aURZa3VPWXZ5OEJrTT0%3D&utm_source=acs&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NT_MAR_WYMHM-23%2F07%2F14_A%2FB%20test%20on%20subject&deliveryName=DM157669