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‘Missed Opportunity’ to Tackle NHS and Social Care Staff Shortages

In what has been described as a “missed opportunity” the government has rejected the Health and Social Care Committee’s recommendation to overhaul workforce planning.

The Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee has said the Government has missed an opportunity to alleviate the workforce crisis in the NHS and social care by rejecting the Committee’s recommendation to overhaul workforce planning. Today the Government has published its response to the Committee’s June 2021 Report, Workforce burnout and resilience in the NHS and social care.

In its report, the Committee warned that workforce burnout across NHS and care systems had reached emergency level and was risking the future functioning of services. The inquiry heard that NHS workforce planning was at best opaque and at worst was responsible for unacceptable pressure on staff. The Report concluded that available funding was the driver behind planning, rather than the level of demand and staffing capacity needed to service it. It further cited the absence of any ‘accurate, public projection’ of workforce requirements in specialisms over the next five to ten years.

Health and Social Care Committee Chair Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP said:

“Whilst we are pleased that some of our recommendations to improve workplace culture were well received, this long-awaited response is a missed opportunity to properly address the single biggest driver of workforce burnout, staff shortages.

“It is disappointing the Government has again rejected our call for transparent and independent projections of the number of doctors and nurses we need to meet future demand. Unless we have future proof workforce planning, it will not be possible to address the NHS backlog and the cycle of crises putting dangerous pressure on staff will continue.

“We hope the Government will be persuaded by the case for independent workforce planning as the Health and Care Bill progresses through Parliament. Without it we see little hope that the workforce crisis will be alleviated.”