The NHS must prioritise talent planning if it is to have any hope of delivering on its pledge to save half a million more lives in the next decade. Contributor Michael Johnson-Ellis – Healthier Recruiter.
The target, which is outlined in NHS England’s Long Term Plan, which was published today, is set to be achieved by focusing on prevention and public health through cutting-edge strategies.
The report outlines measures to tackle the current staffing crisis including: an increase in nurse undergraduate places, job guarantees for nurse and midwife graduates and the introduction of new online nursing degrees. Other suggestions to improve staff numbers include a focus on clinical apprenticeships, growing medical school places with more part-time options and aiding retention through a commitment to CPD and the introduction of more flexible working arrangements.
Despite persistent efforts to boost recruitment and retention within the NHS, the latest data shows a shortage of almost 108,000 clinical professionals across the health service, with one in 11 vacancies currently unfilled.
While we applaud NHS England’s ambition to dramatically reduce the number of people dying from big killers such as cancer, heart attacks and strokes, these plans are simply not achievable unless there are strong staffing strategies in place.
For this reason, we welcome the NHS’s admission that “the way staff have been supported to work has not kept up with the changing requirements of patients”. We also support the health service’s commitment to putting in place changes that “remove wasted time and irritating tasks, so that staff are able to focus on patient care” and the introduction of technology to ensure that Trusts make the most of their available workforces.
On paper, transforming the way that patients are diagnosed, processed and treated through the use of genomics, cutting-edge surgery and artificial intelligence makes perfect sense. However, it is crucial that Trusts have access to the requisite talent to design, implement and deliver these services if they are to see meaningful change.
In our experience many Trusts are already struggling to source the professionals they need amid ongoing staff shortages. Long-term, measures must be put in place to ensure that skills are developed to pipeline talent effectively if the NHS is to meet its pledge of saving half a million more lives over the next 10 years.
However, in the short term, it is absolutely vital that Trusts utilise existing workforces strategically – with a specific focus on engaging and developing permanent staff – if they are to realise NHS England’s admirable vision. Thankfully, it seems that the NHS’s latest strategy recognises and addresses this need.