Tackling the staffing crisis, particularly in the nursing workforce, is an ‘urgent priority’, according to the Interim NHS People Plan.
The plan also says more must be done to make the NHS a good place to work, so that those employed by the service want to stay. Under the plan, the NHS would see an extra 5700 placements for nursing students per year, enabling universities to increase the number of degree places available, while increasing the number of nursing associates to 7500. Additionally, the plan commits to growing the number of nurses from overseas, using experienced ‘lead recruiter’ agencies.
The interim plan does not provide costs for how it will be delivered. It says this will come in the full plan, which will be published after the government’s next spending review in the autumn.
‘We welcome the interim plan as a good basis on which to move forward. But for this to have an impact on the working lives of midwives and other NHS staff, and improve the care they are able to deliver then it needs sufficient investment,’ said Gill Walton, chief executive of the RCM.
To make the NHS a better place to work, the plan advocates asking staff what they want from the NHS as an employer so an ‘offer’ on flexible working can be created. Pension issues inhibiting experienced nurses working extra shifts will also be addressed.
Other organisations were positive about the plan with projects to support its delivery in motion. ‘Given the focus on community and primary care we are delighted to be launching in November the QNI International Community Nursing Observatory with a focus on the workforce challenges and solutions,’ said Crystal Oldman, chief executive of the Queen’s Nursing Institute. ‘We look forward to working with NHSE/I in support of the delivery of the people plan, utilising our extensive networks of practitioners, managers and Queen’s Nurses.’