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New NHS workforce plan put on hold amid budget talks

The publication of the first national plan for the health workforce has been delayed by Health Education England, as discussions with the Department of Health over its budget allocation continue.

The £5bn education and training provider was expecting to reveal its draft first national plan for the future supply of NHS staff at its board meeting today.

But the meeting was cancelled after it emerged details of Health Education England’s 2014 budget could be revealed sooner than previously thought.

The draft document would give details of the number of nurses, doctors and other healthcare staff Health Education England expects to train from 2014 onwards. A final plan will be drawn up early in the new year.

The workforce plan is expected to propose an increase in the number of registered nurses. The nurse level stabilised this year after several years of cuts.

Following the Francis report NHS trusts are planning for 3,700 extra nurses this year, but many report a shortage in the number available. A recent invesigation by Nursing Times has revealed that at least 40 trusts have recruited nurses from overseas in the past 12 months.

A Health Education England spokesman said: “The intention was to publish a first plan in December based on modelling of our final allocation from the Department of Health, with a final version next February or March when that allocation was known.

“We believe we may now be able to get an earlier indication of that allocation, which would allow us to publish just one final report. We have therefore postponed our board meeting for a short while to discuss this with the Department of Health.”

A DH spokeswoman added: “We are currently in discussions with Health Education England regarding their funding allocation for the next financial year.

“We look forward to seeing their final workforce plan once these discussions have been concluded. The plan will help make sure that we are training the right number of staff, with the right skills and values for the NHS.”


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Readers' comments (3)

  • With the change in focus on where money is to be spent on the NHS, my trust in the northeast of England is going to see its relatively-high budget slashed as money is diverted to areas with a higher proportion of elderly people.

    It is my understanding that many nurse specialist jobs will have to go and those that remain will be at a lower AfC band. I think there will be many who will struggle when they find themselves back on the wards after years of working 'flexi-time'.

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  • Anonymous | 5-Dec-2013 1:31 pm

    Why would they return to a ward? Or were you speaking euphemistically? Specialist nurses work wherever there are patients. I am an Oncology specialist nurse and certainly don't work 'flexi-time'. The impact of slashing specialist jobs will be hugely detrimental to patient care and outcomes.

    If I found that my role was ever to be cut, I would take my skills, experience, qualifications that I studied for in my own time and largely at my own expense, and work for one of the cancer charities. Without hesitation.

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  • Oh, great. So the NHS lays off UK staff and asset strips fragile health services in developing countries rather than training our own future generations.

    The workforce skill mixes on many acute wards I've seen are dangerous. Unregistered staff without an adequate knowledge base to make safe professional decisions are being delegated nursing work for which they're not prepared.

    The sad thing is, the HCAs see it as a compliment and feel flattered, while the nurses have little choice because they can't physically cope with so few qualified staff.

    Patients just get scared and neglected. It looks and feels like chaos led by negligence.

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