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National Voices’ response to the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan

Jacob Lant, Chief Executive of National Voices, responds to the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan

  • Communication and administration

We at National Voices, England’s leading coalition of over 200 health and social care charities, are pleased that the growing crisis in the NHS workforce is finally being given the attention it desperately needs. We appreciate the significance of publicly acknowledging the scale of the problem, and the clear outline of the proposed short, medium and long-term solutions.

We are pleased to see the plan bring a renewed focus to retaining existing staff and we look forward to working with our partners representing the workforce to understand how well the proposals address the underlying issues. In the long-term we are encouraged by the significant expansion of training places and the creation of new routes into clinical roles that could, if done right, help the NHS expand the workforce faster.  

But as it stands there is not enough attention in the workforce plan given to administrative and support staff. We know these staff are so critical to patients’ accessing the right care and to their experiences of care. They are also essential to freeing clinicians to focus on clinical care. So this is an oversight and must be an increasing focus as plans evolve. We are also concerned that the modelling in the plan is heavily dependent on a reduction in demand on services by encouraging people to use more technology (like remote monitoring) and self-manage their care. This will need to be carefully co-designed with patients to ensure it actually works for them, and doesn’t exacerbate existing health inequalities.

Finally, though we understand the need for a longer-term workforce plan, the public and people using services need to see how things are going to change – now and in the coming weeks and months, not just years. Long waits, ongoing barriers to access to care, and poor experiences of care are all urgent issues that need to be addressed now, and cannot wait for the actions outlined in the plan to take effect in 15 years time. We stand ready to work with NHSE and to share with them insights and concerns of people using services.

Jacob Lant, Chief Executive, National Voices