A new national board tasked with advising on workforce issues is to be created, planning guidance for the NHS in England has revealed.
Details of the workforce advisory board were unveiled in NHS England’s planning guidance for 2015-16, which was published at the end of last week.
The board will be chaired by Health Education England and include “senior membership from across the system”.
“There is a need for a much closer alignment between workforce and service planning”
The planning guidance sets out four areas of initial focus for the board. These include efforts to improve staff retention and attract former healthcare workers to return to roles suffering from shortages, such as nursing, emergency medicine and general practice.
It will also be used to offer support to what NHS England regards as “challenged health economies” where workforce shortages are exacerbating problems.
Other areas of work for the new board will include identifying new roles to deliver the ambitions set out in the NHS England’s new five-year plan, the Five Year Forward View, although the guidance gives no specific detail on what this might be.
In addition, will look at the training and skills of the workforce ahead of new care models coming into force.
Howard Catton, policy director at the Royal College of Nursing, welcomed a national workforce board.
He said: “We have highlighted for some time that there is a need for a much closer alignment between workforce and service planning.
“We think this could be extremely helpful in providing and coordinating a more immediate focus on what needs to be done in the short to medium term,” he said. “It will allow a space for a more genuine multidisciplinary discussion.”