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Majority of NHS trusts need improved approach to workforce planning

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NHS trusts are being encouraged to use a new tool to assess their workforce plans, after a review of the proposals by regulator NHS Improvement found “all could be more robust”.

NHS Improvement found some of the 242 NHS trust plans it reviewed in England required a better understanding of the relationship between capacity and workforce assumptions, as well as between activity, financial and performance expectations.

“Effective and robust workforce planning is an important asset for trusts”

Mark Radford

Overall, its review of the proposals, which involved looking at plans for the 2018-19 financial year, suggested the “majority” of trusts needed to strengthen their approach.

To help organisations refine their planning, the regulator has developed a voluntary operational workforce planning self-assessment tool that it wants to see all trusts using when they draw up their next set of plans for 2019-20.

It also wants to see employers ensuring that service managers and senior leaders within their organisations have more input into the plans.

“We have created an easy-to-use tool which will enable [trusts] to reflect upon their current approaches”

Mark Radford

The toolkit was launched on Tuesday at an NHS Improvement conference for hospital leaders, clinicians and service managers.

It includes five key areas – leadership, technology, strategy, engagement and integration, and information, method and governance.

The regulator said it hoped that the approach would mean workforce planning became more integrated with finance, activity and business planning.

NHS Improvement

Senior nurses appointed by national regulator

Mark Radford

Launching the tool, Professor Mark Radford, director of nursing at NHS Improvement, said: “Effective and robust workforce planning is an important asset for trusts in their efforts to provide patients with good quality care.

“Therefore, trusts should always be looking to improve or upgrade their systems and processes for developing workforce plans,” he said.

“However, we recognise some trusts may need support on making changes to how they work in this area,” noted Professor Radford.

“So, we have created an easy-to-use tool which will enable them to reflect upon their current approaches to workforce planning and identify areas for improvement,” he added.

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