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Staffing issuesNov 18, 2022

Workforce plan welcomed as a 'vital' step towards starting to fill the 132,000 vacancies in the NHS

Health organisations – including the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) – have broadly welcomed a government commitment to producing a long-term NHS workforce plan, an initiative that was announced yesterday (17 November) by chancellor Jeremy Hunt in his 2022 Autumn Statement.

King’s Fund chief executive Richard Murray said he was particularly pleased to hear that workforce plan would include ‘independently verified projections’ for staff numbers over the next 15 years.

‘[This] means that health and care services can plan to train, recruit and retain the staff they need in future. We hope the necessary resources will also be put in place to meet these needs.’

Mr Murray also said the additional £3.3 billion funding that had been promised was an ‘important recognition from the government’ that the NHS was ‘on its knees trying to meet demand and keep patients safe’. NHS funding is on a 'knife-edge', he warned, and leaders would be forced to 'focus solely on its top priorities and go further on an already ambitious efficiency programme'. 


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Welcome to work: physio graduates should have a guaranteed job in the NHS, says CSP

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However, with the inflation rate currently standing at 11.1 per cent, the government would be unable meet plans to maintain and improve NHS buildings, equipment and IT. The government ‘will need to cut back its ambitions’, Mr Murray noted.  

Turning to social care, he added: ‘What we do know is that part of this extra funding is coming from further delay to the much-needed reforms on how we pay for adult social care. This is disappointing and the delay to the extension to the means test and a new capped-cost model will leave many thousands of families missing out on this promised new support.’

'Huge relief' for influential MP

Steve Brine MP, who chairs that all-party Health and Social Care Committee, said: ‘With workforce shortages at crisis levels, it is also a huge relief that the chancellor has committed the Government to publishing an independently verified workforce plan for the NHS for the next five, 10, and 15 years – something this committee has long been calling for.’

The NHS Confederation

Matthew Taylor, the NHS Confederation's chief executive, said: ‘What is clear from today’s settlement is that the government has listened to NHS leaders. The chancellor’s announcement that the government will commit to publishing an independent workforce plan for the NHS is something NHS leaders have long been calling for. It’s vital to ensuring we start to fill the 132,000 vacancies that we’ve currently got.'

Mr Taylor also welcomed an announcement that Patricia Hewitt MP is to lead a review of integrated care systems – a key plank in NHS reforms – charged with finding 'extra efficiencies'.

‘The NHS is already one of the most efficient health services in the world and NHS leaders are making great strides to increase efficiencies. But they know there is more that can be done,' he added. 

Chartered Society of Physiotherapy

This [announcement] is very welcome, but action is needed now, like guaranteeing every newly qualified physio an NHS job, expanding pre reg apprenticeships and recruiting more support workers [Rob Yeldham, CSP]

In a blog published on the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy’s website, Rob Yeldham pointed out that Mr Hunt had championed the need for authoritative long-term NHS workforce planning over several years while in his previous role as chair of the Health and Social Care Committee.

Mr Yeldham, the CSP's director of strategy, policy and engagement directorate, said it was not surprising that Mr Hunt had reversed Treasury opposition to a long-term workforce plan. 'This is very welcome, but action is needed now, like guaranteeing every newly qualified physio an NHS job, expanding pre reg apprenticeships and recruiting more support workers.'

He added: ‘Long term workforce plans must cover all health sectors to work and should involve unions, professional bodies and academic expert input. The CSP has been promoting a whole pipeline approach to planning and developing the physio workforce and we need to see that approach reflected both in short term and longer-term plans.’

To read Mr Yeldham's blog in full, visit: https://www.csp.org.uk/blog/2022/11/what-do-speeches-chancellor-secretary-state-health-mean-csp-members

Author: Ian A McMillan
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