MP for Hornchurch and Upminster, Julia Lopez, has welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement of the NHS England Long Term Workforce Plan. This plan sets out long term projections for future workforce supply and demand for the next 15 years and sets an ambitious agenda of reform, productivity and growth to build a sustainable workforce. It is backed by investment of more than £2.4 billion, the largest ever expansion of NHS workforce training in history. The Plan has three central components focussing on training, retention, and reform.
The Government will:
- double the number of undergraduate medical school training places by 2031 from 7,500 today to 15,000
- increase the number of GP training places by 50% to 6,000 by 2031
- Nearly double the number of adult nurse training places by 2031, with more than 24,000 more nurse and midwife training places a year by 2031.
- Expand dentistry places by 40%, reaching 300 more training places for dentists and dental care practitioners by 2031.
The Government will:
- Build on earlier reforms to the legacy NHS pension scheme to enable a ‘decade of retirement’ approach.
- Pilot the Digital Staff Passport later this year, which makes it easier and simpler for NHS staff to move between NHS organisations.
- Explore a tie-in so that newly qualified dentists spend a minimum proportion of their time delivering NHS care in the years following graduation.
- Implement existing commitments, including tackling violence against NHS staff, reviewing the support newly qualified staff receive, and continuing national funding of £1,000 a year for continuing professional development for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals.
- Invest in occupational health, including musculoskeletal and mental health services, so staff can stay healthy and work to their full potential.
- Enable newly-retired doctors to carry on providing care by re-joining the NHS to do outpatient appoints, either virtually or in person, through a new digital platform available this autumn for people to sign-up to.
The Government will:
- Train more physician associates, anaesthesia associates, nursing associates and advanced practitioners to improve the breadth of skills in multidisciplinary teams and the flexibility of the workforce.
- Modernise the system of regulation for healthcare professionals, making it faster, fairer, more flexible and less adversarial.
- Build extra capacity in general practice, with an additional 15,000 direct patient care staff and 5,000 more primary care nurses over the next 15 years.
- Allow doctors other than GPs to work in general practice, under the supervision of a fully qualified GP.
- Ensure doctors in their first year out of medical school have at least one four-month placement in general practice from August 2025.
- Provide a quarter of all training for clinical staff through apprenticeship routes by 2030, up from just 7% today, and further expand medical apprenticeships so that 850 medical students will qualify through this route by 2028, compared to a pilot of just 200 today.
- Make use of Brexit flexibilities to introduce four-year, rather than five-year, medical and allow graduate nurses to join the nursing register after fewer practice hours, if they meet the same established standards set by the professional regulators.
- Embrace new technologies, for example, working with the Royal College of Surgeons on the effective introduction of robotic surgery and working with the Royal College of Radiologists on the use of artificial intelligence in radiology.
As a result of the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan, the NHS will reduce reliance on agency staff and international recruitment, and, in 15 years’ time, the Government expects around 10% of the workforce to be recruited internationally, compared to nearly a quarter today. These changes will also ensure up to 130,000 more staff remain in the NHS than would otherwise have been the case over the next 15 years.
This comprehensive plan is an important step in supporting the NHS to prepare for the challenges facing our health and care system in the future. It builds on recent announcement that the Government has delivered on a key manifesto commitment to recruit 26,000 additional primary care professions - ranging from paramedics to dietitians and physiotherapists – with at least 4,246 of these in London. These staff will be working in GP practices with doctors and nurses to help provided much needed care to patients.
Locally, this recruitment drive has seen the addition of 670 primary care staff across the North East London region, helping to cut waiting lists, improve services and assist GP practices throughout Havering and the wider region. Building on these encouraging numbers, the North East London Integrated Care Board (ICB) have confirmed that recruitment to these posts will continue into the future.
This is a year ahead of schedule, with the original pledge stating this would be met by March 2024. This means that since March 2019, there are three and a half times more people working in these roles within GP practices, increasing from 11,500 in 2019 to over 40,600 as of March this year.
Along with meeting this target, the Government continues to work to create more appointments, and recent data shows that as a result of this push there were almost two million more GP appointments delivered this March when compared to last year – meaning a rise of 83,500 more appointments each working day.