NHS leaders have said they “expect” to increase investment in continuing professional development over the next five years, as part of efforts to retain nurses and other current health service staff.
They have also pledged to promote flexible working, wellbeing and career development, while “redoubling” efforts to address discrimination, violence, bullying and harassment faced by NHS staff.
“Growing the NHS workforce will partly depend on retaining the staff we have”
NHS Long Term Plan
The NHS Long Term Plan, revealed today by the government arms’-length body NHS England, sets out health service leaders’ future priorities and ambitions for the NHS for the next decade.
The plan stated: “To support current staff, more flexible rostering will become mandatory across all trusts, funding for continuing professional development will increase each year, and action will be taken to support diversity and a culture of respect and fair treatment.
“New roles and inter-disciplinary credentialing programmes will enable more workforce flexibility across an individual’s NHS career and between individual staff groups,” it added.
Along with overseas recruitment and more domestic training, the plan cited the need to retain more nursing staff who were already working for the health service.
“CPD has the potential to deliver a high return on investment”
NHS Long Term Plan
In its chapter on workforce, it highlighted that the leaver rate for nurses was 8% in 2017 – up from 6.8% in 2013.
It stated: “Growing the NHS workforce will partly depend on retaining the staff we have. Training lead-times mean new investment in staff will not deliver additional supply for at least three years.
“This means concerted action to support employers in retaining staff is an urgent priority now and will remain a necessity throughout the next decade,” it said.
The plan noted that NHS Improvement’s “retention collaborative” had already delivered “substantial measurable improvements” through targeted support for trusts with high turnover.
As previously revealed by Nursing Times, the programme of support has shown early progress on improving staff retention and be extended to all trusts across England.
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Restating this aim, the plan said: “We will extend this support to all NHS employers, and NHS Improvement is committed to improving staff retention by at least 2% by 2025, the equivalent of 12,400 additional nurses.”
However, it went on to state that “one of the top reasons” for people leaving was that they did not receive the “development and career progression that they need”.
“CPD − or more specifically workforce development – has the potential to deliver a high return on investment,” said the long-term plan.
“It offers staff career progression that motivates them to stay within the NHS and, just as importantly, equips them with the skills to operate at advanced levels of professional practice and to meet patients’ needs of the future,” it added.
“We will expand multi-professional credentialing to enable clinicians to develop new capabilities”
NHS Long Term Plan
The plan said that it expected more funding to be committed to CPD and career development for nurses and other NHS staff following this year’s upcoming government spending review.
It highlighted that national body Health Education England had recently committed to increase the proportion of its total budget spent on workforce development in the short-term, with a “focus on primary care and community settings”.
As reported by Nursing Times, in December HEE said it would increase the proportion of its total budget for workforce development, in the wake of previous cuts stretching back to 2015. The budget fell by 60% in two years from 205m in 2015 to £83.49m in 2017, and was initially frozen at £83.49m for 2018-19.
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“Following agreement of the HEE training budget in this year’s government spending review, we will expect to increase investment in CPD over the next five years,” stated the plan.
It added: “Support from employers is also key – in particular ensuring that staff are given the time out to develop their skills.”
Speaking at a Nursing Times event in October, the chief executive of HEE warned that stopping nurses from quitting their jobs was the “single biggest workforce challenge” facing the NHS today.
Ian Cumming told the inaugural Nursing Times Workforce Summit that the nurse leaving rate had risen from 7.3% in 2012-13 to 8.7% in 2016-17.
Meanwhile, the NHS Long Term Plan also seek to improve staff retention by promoting access to recognised advanced practice qualifications and standards.
“We will expand multi-professional credentialing to enable clinicians to develop new capabilities formally recognised in specific areas of competence,” it said. “This will allow clinicians to shift or expand their scope of practice to other areas more easily, creating a more adaptable workforce.
The plan noted that NHS England had already developed several credentials, for example the Royal College of Nursing’s Advanced Level Nurse Practitioner credentialing scheme.
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“We will accelerate development of credentials for mental health, cardiovascular disease, ageing population, preventing harm and cancer, with the intention of publishing standards in 2020,” it said.
In addition, the plan acknowledged that “inflexible and unpredictable” working patterns made it harder for people to “balance their work and personal life obligations”.
“To make the NHS a consistently great place to work, we will seek to shape a modern employment culture for the NHS – promoting flexibility, wellbeing and career development, and redoubling our efforts to address discrimination, violence, bullying and harassment,” it stated.
The plan said it was “unacceptable” that a quarter of NHS staff had experienced harassment, bullying or abuse from other staff in the last 12 months.
It said a separate workforce implementation plan, due later in the year, would aim to “build a modern working culture where all staff feel supported, valued and respected for what they do”.
It also highlighted recently launched schemes to tackle violence, including moves to secure swift prosecutions, better training for staff to deal with violence and prompt mental health support for staff who have been victims.
“We will invest up to £2m a year from 2019-20 in these programmes to reduce violence, bullying and harassment for our staff. We will invest a further £8m by 2023-24 to pilot the use of body cameras to keep our staff safe,” it added.
The new 10-year plan for the health service was published at 12pm today, after being delayed since the end of last year – reportedly due to the chaos around Brexit.
“We will seek to shape a modern employment culture for the NHS”
NHS Long Term Plan
The blueprint sets out how the £20.5bn annual budget increase for the health service, which was promised last summer by prime minister Theresa May, will be spent.
Ahead of its full publication, some of the main aims and innovations set to be included in the plan were revealed in bite-size chunks over the festive period and in a more comprehensive statement yesterday by NHS England.
Maternity care, children’s services, cancer care, mental health and heart disease were all highlighted as being set to benefit, along with funding boosts for community care, digital technology and prevention.
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The last time a 10-year strategy document was drawn up covering the whole health service in England was the NHS Plan, which was published in 2000 by the Labour government under Tony Blair.
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