College joins over 100 health organisations in signing open letter to the Prime Minister urging him to strengthen workforce planning Health and Care Bill

29 Mar 2022

College joins over 100 health organisations in signing open letter to the Prime Minister urging him to strengthen workforce planning Health and Care Bill.

The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow has joined over 100 health and care organisations, in supporting the #StrengthInNumbers campaign and signed a letter to the Prime Minister urging him to accept the Lords’ amendment to the Health and Care Bill that will guarantee independent assessments of how many health and social care staff we need now and in future.   

Our College has prioritised Workforce and Wellbeing and will continue to speak up for the profession in this key area as we push for renewal of the NHS.

A copy of the letter is below:

Rt. Hon. Boris Johnson MP, Prime Minister  
10 Downing Street  
London  
SW1A 2AA  

Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing to ask you and your government to accept the amendment on workforce planning when the Health and Care Bill returns to the House of Commons. 

The pandemic has reinforced what we’ve long known: the NHS and social care need more staff. The amendment that was passed on 3 March – with support from cross-party Peers, the Health and Social Care Select Committee and 100 health and care organisations – means that the Bill now provides a mechanism for attaining clarity about the number of doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and social care staff we need now and into the future. Without it, we will continue to fly blind on NHS and social care staffing.

Lords’ amendment 29 will give a national, independent view of how many health and social care staff are needed to keep pace with projected demand over the next 5, 10 and 20 years. Our over 100 organisations believe this data is crucial to begin putting the workforce back on a sustainable footing, support more strategic spending decisions and provide long-term cost savings. Recovery of our health and care services will be fatally undermined without a comprehensive workforce strategy that addresses endemic staff shortages by projecting future demand and supply.

There are significant challenges facing our country including an ageing population, more people reliant on long-term care, and long-standing regional and specialty shortages. A national independent picture of projected staffing supply relative to projected demand will help to ensure the NHS and social care systems are prepared for the future. Staff shortages are a false economy. The current mismatch between supply and demand is leading in part to significant spend on locum and agency staff. In 2019/20, £6.2bn was spent on agency and bank staff in hospitals in England. Strategic increases in substantive staff would reduce reliance on locums and provide cost savings in the long-run. These independent assessments are central to enabling the NHS to make the best use of public money. 

Regularly published assessments will also enable the health and care system to make best use of new and emerging roles in health and social care, improving efficiency by ensuring staff are working to the top of their band and that their practice is informed by the latest evidence. These assessments will be based on current trajectories of demand given the rise in certain health conditions, demographic changes and the rising use of technology. By understanding the staffing numbers required to meet projected demand, the assessments will also provide robust data to inform decisions on wider policy measures – such as investment in prevention and public health strategies – which reduce avoidable pressure on health and care services.

The non-legislative approach taken so far has not worked. There are chronic vacancies across health and care, and previous NHS and Health Education England workforce frameworks have failed to set out how many staff are needed to keep pace with demand. Without transparency on numbers, progress cannot be made. Staff in post are under huge pressure as they pick up the additional workload created by staffing vacancies. We recognise that there are record numbers of staff working in the health service – but demand is at a record high too, with 6.1 million people currently on NHS waiting lists. Vacancies are rising too and now match pre-pandemic highs, with over 110,000 full-time equivalent vacancies in the NHS. Overstretched staff have significant implications both for safety and quality of care for the public and retention of staff. 

Without this amendment, the Health and Care Bill will fail to address the biggest challenge facing the NHS and social care system: staffing shortages. The money from the National Insurance rise this April to help reduce pressure on the NHS and support social care reform will only go so far if there are not enough staff to deliver care to those on waiting lists or accessing social care services. Workforce is the limiting factor in your government’s plans for health and care. We urge you to carefully consider the intention of this amendment and ensure it stands part of the final Act.

We look forward to your response to this letter and would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss this further.

Yours sincerely

Academy of Medical Royal Colleges

Action Kidney Cancer 

Age UK

Alzheimer’s Society

Association for Palliative Medicine of Great Britain and Ireland

Association of British Clinical Diabetologists

Association of British Neurologists

Association of Cancer Physicians

Asthma and Lung UK

Bliss

Blood Cancer UK

Bowel Cancer UK

Brain Tumour Charity

Brain Tumour Research

brainstrust – the brain cancer people

Breast Cancer Now

British and Irish Association of Stroke Physicians

British Association of Dermatologists

British Association of Sexual Health & HIV

British Cardiovascular Society

British Geriatrics Society

British Heart Foundation

British Medical Association (BMA)

British Nuclear Medicine Society

British Pharmacological Society

British Psychological Society

British Society for Haematology

British Society for Rheumatology

British Thoracic Society

Cancer Awareness for Teens & Twenties

Cancer Black Care

Cancer Research UK

Cancer52

Centre for Mental Health

Chartered Society of Physiotherapy

Children with Cancer UK

Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group

Clinical Genetics Society

CLL Support

Crohn’s & Colitis UK

Diabetes UK

Faculty of Dental Surgery of the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

Faculty of Physician Associates

Faculty of Public Health

Faculty of Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare

Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine

Grace Kelly Childhood Cancer Trust

Health Foundation

Independent Age

Intensive Care Society

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust

Kidney Cancer UK

Macmillan Cancer Support

Marie-Curie

Medical Schools Council

Mencap

Mental Health Foundation

Mesothelioma UK

Mind

Myeloma UK

National Voices

NHS Confederation

NHS Providers

Nuffield Trust

One Cancer Voice

Ovacome

Ovarian Cancer Action

Pancreatic Cancer UK

Parkinson’s UK

Prostate Cancer UK

Rethink Mental Illness

Royal College of Anaesthetists

Royal College of Emergency Medicine

Royal College of General Practitioners

Royal College of Midwives

Royal College of Nursing​

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

Royal College of Occupational Therapists

Royal College of Ophthalmologists

Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health

Royal College of Pathologists

Royal College of Physicians​

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow

Royal College of Psychiatrists

Royal College of Radiologists

Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists

Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh

Royal College of Surgeons of England

Sarcoma UK

Society for Acute Medicine

Society for Endocrinology

Solving Kids Cancer

Stroke Association

Sue Ryder

Target Ovarian Cancer

Teenage Cancer Trust

The King’s Fund

The Richmond Group

UK Kidney Association

UNISON

Young Lives vs Cancer

Young Minds.

CC. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

Category: Workforce


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