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Evidence and consultations

Health and Social Care Committee workforce inquiry: recruitment, training and retention in health and social care

The 2019 Conservative Party manifesto included pledges to deliver 50,000 more nurses, 6,000 GPs and 6,000 other primary care professionals. Two years on, no plan to address workforce shortages has been published, funding for the training and development of staff was conspicuous by its absence from the Spending Review and the measures in the Bill relating to workforce remain weak.

Summary

  • The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated an existing workforce crisis in the NHS and social care. Significant workforce shortages and rates of turnover pose a grave risk to the recovery of services and quality of care, as well as the health and wellbeing of staff. Many staff will emerge from the pandemic in need of time and support to recover.

  • High levels of staff vacancies, sickness absence, turnover and work-related stress are having a damaging impact on staff. There is an urgent need to develop and sustain compassionate and inclusive workplace cultures that protect staff wellbeing and attract, retain, and sustain staff in their vocation to provide high-quality care.

  • The NHS People Plan was the latest in a series of stop-gap measures that have failed to address the NHS workforce crisis. The case for a fully funded, multi-year health and social care workforce plan is overwhelming.

  • The Health and Care Bill provides an opportunity to require the publication of regular, independently verified workforce projections to enable better workforce planning.

  • Manifesto pledges to recruit more GPs and primary care professionals are unlikely to be met. The key to addressing staff shortages in primary care is to move to a new model of general practice in which multidisciplinary teams draw on a range of health care professionals alongside GPs. This requires investment in capacity and leadership to support change.

  • Addressing workforce shortages in the NHS must not come at the expense of other parts of the system, including social care. Comprehensive reforms are needed to improve pay, terms and conditions in social care in order to overcome the current social care workforce crisis.