The King's Fund: NHS workforce planning - limitations and possibilities

This 2009 report considers the degree to which NHS workforce planning in England is likely to help deliver a workforce fit for the future. It examines developments at national and regional level, highlights relevant international experience, and proposes ways in which planning could be made more effective.

This report, published in 2009, considers the degree to which NHS workforce planning in England is likely to support the delivery of a workforce that is fit for the future. The report:

  • examines developments at national and regional level
  • highlights relevant international experience
  • proposes ways in which planning could be made more effective.

It includes appendices on SHA workforce training budgets and international approaches to workforce planning.

Recommendations

  • Workforce planning at local and national level should be a core part of the productivity and quality improvement agenda.
  • The annual assessment of priorities should look at the workforce in the round, not just the different professional groups and their sub-specialist elements. The assessment of risks should provide relevant information on education, employment law, pay, working conditions, and national and international flows. The report identifies a particular need to link pay policy to broader workforce goals.
  • The planning and funding of broader workforce development, including leadership skills, should be given a higher priority.
  • The 'multi-professional' approach to workforce planning should be strengthened.
  • The planning capacity at regional and local level should be audited and improved.
  • The Multi-Professional Education and Training (MPET) levy should be reviewed.
  • Roles and responsibilities need to be clarified further.
  • Greater transparency about the degree of inherent uncertainty is required.
  • Workforce planning information needs to be secured from all health care providers.

Conclusion

The report concluded that the focus should be on developing a flexible approach that:

  • does not seek long-term predictive precision but can identify potential medium-term issues, and
  • (most importantly) enables the current workforce to evolve and adapt to the inherently unpredictable healthcare environment.