Workforce toughest issue NHS faces over long-term, say employers

Author: Caroline White
Workforce toughest issue NHS faces over long-term, say employers

Developing a sustainable workforce with the right skills over the long-term is the toughest challenge the NHS faces, highlights NHS Employers in its submission* to the NHS Pay Review Body (NHS PRB) for 2019-20.

Long-term workforce planning and talent management must be key priorities, and at scale, it insists.

As a pay deal applicable over several years is in place for staff within the remit of the NHS PRB, the NHS Employers' evidence is not intended to seek recommendations on pay.

Rather, it is intended to update the NHS PRB on progress towards rolling out the pay deal as well as wider system developments.

The submission acknowledges the support and endorsement of the NHS PRB to the refresh of the NHS Terms and Conditions of Service in 2018, which employers have found “genuinely helpful in terms of supporting wider system strategic objectives,” and which they see “as a positive start to the urgent and sustained work needed to address continuing severe pressures on attraction, recruitment and retention of staff,” it says.

“The view of employers remains that pay must always be considered in the context of long-term objectives, the future system and service operating model, and the reward and workforce strategies required to support this. Future annual changes to pay can then be used to support the long-term vision,” it adds.

But Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said: "Some of the key messages include the fact that the workforce shortage is the toughest challenge the NHS faces, and that we are in the midst of an incredibly difficult period financially for health and social care in the UK,” he said.

"To develop a sustainable workforce with the right skills, we must prioritise long-term workforce planning and talent management. This planning must take place at a larger scale than individual organisations in order to improve the development of talent among health and care staff,” he insisted.

"The NHS will only continue to thrive if it is given the right resources. Equally, it must change the way some services are delivered, although this transformation also relies on investment in other public services, particularly social care,” he said.

"Given the nature of the multi-year agreement reached on pay in 2018, our evidence is focused on updating the NHS Pay Review Body on the 2018 implementation of the pay deal and we are taking the opportunity to refer to wider system developments and feedback from employers."

*NHS Employers' Submission to the NHS Pay Review Body 2019/20. NHS Employers, 7 January 2019.