Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Workforce planning in NHS branded ‘lackadaisical’

  • Comment

Workforce planning by the NHS is poor, and at times “woeful”, nurses have warned at the Royal College of Nursing annual conference.

The health of the UK will “inevitably take a downward spiral” without action to improve the long-term planning of the health service’s workforce, delegates were told today at the conference in Bournemouth.

Michael Smith, who submitted the resolution on behalf of the UK Stewards Committee, described the approach taken by the NHS as “lackadaisical”, and was particularly poor for community settings.

He pointed out that the average of people joining the register was 29 and the average age of nurses in general was 45, but there were insufficient numbers coming in to replace them.


That this meeting of RCN Congress calls on governments within the UK to change their lackadaisical approach to nursing workforce planning.

The committee claimed that the approach to workforce planning in the NHS had been “uncoordinated and unplanned” for years.

It noted that within England, workforce planning was largely devolved to local clinical commissioning groups and local education and training boards, while Health Education England also worked on regional target setting for nursing commissions based on the projections for future demand.

“There is a concern that workforce planning in England is increasingly being driven by affordability and not demand,” said the committee.

Supporting the motion, Maria Nicholson said the government’s approach to workforce planning was worse than lackadaisical and was actually “woeful”.

Meanwhile, Marie Massey, from the RCN’s Practice Nurse Forum, warned that the community nurse workforce was “dwindling”.

Wendy Fairhurst-Winstanley raised concerns that hundreds of physician assistants – referred to as physician associates by the Department of Health – were being recruited to help with workforce problems in primary care. But she highlighted that they were not regulated.

The resolution was subsequently passed by 98%. In the a vote by RCN members.

  • For – 98.47% (483)
  • Against – 1.43% (7)
  • Abstain – (6)
  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.