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Trusts ‘ignore workforce planning’

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The RCN has accused NHS trusts of failing to listen to advice on workforce planning in the government’s review of the health service in England.

In evidence to junior health minister Lord Darzi’s NHS Next Stage review, the RCN said trusts are planning their workforce based on year-on-year financial concerns, rather than long-term plans.

The college claims they are also failing to take notice of a yearly workforce planning risk assessment report published by the NHS Workforce Review Team, Karen Didovich, the college’s senior employment relations adviser, told NT.

‘The Workforce Review Team sends out recommendations in a risk assessment but employers don’t really have to take much notice of that,’ said Ms Didovich.

‘For the last few years, employers have been focusing on the bottom line. They are making decisions on workforce planning based on the last 12 months, which is leading to cuts in jobs, training and education. There has to be more accountability and transparency,’ she added.

A separate report, commissioned by the RCN and seen by NT, warns that the number of nurses, midwives and health visitors in England could fall by up to 18.5% by 2015 if nothing is done to curb the effects of nurses retiring, moving abroad or leaving the profession. A worst-case scenario predicted in the report shows the number of nurses dropping from the 2006 total of 374,538 to 305,074 in 2015.

Written by James Buchan, professor of social sciences and healthcare at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, the report warned of the impacts of higher wastage, lower numbers of newly qualifieds and reduced international recruitment on the nursing workforce.

Howard Catton, RCN head of policy, urged government and NHS workforce planners to take note of the warning. ‘It’s in our hands,’ he said.

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