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Help NHS clinicians and support staff develop the skills they need

Last updated: 05:12pm 24 May 2019

We will also help the million and more NHS clinicians and support staff develop the skills they need and the NHS requires in the decades ahead.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.68

Our verdict

Staff and skills shortages across the NHS are widely acknowledged as major challenges to delivering quality healthcare in England, with some expert observers classifying the situation as a “national emergency”. This policy is a promise to help develop the skills the NHS requires.

The most significant development related to this policy under the current government has been the publication in January 2019 of the NHS Long Term Plan. Chapter 4 of the plan is entitled “NHS staff will get the backing they need”. It acknowledges the difficulties of NHS staff “feeling the strain due…to the number of vacancies across many roles” and the fact that “the NHS will need more staff, working in rewarding jobs and a more supportive culture”.

The Long Term Plan sets out a number of strategic initiatives aimed at fulfilling this policy pledge to develop the skills required:

  • A comprehensive new workforce implementation plan
  • Expanding the number of nurses, midwives, Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) and other staff
  • Growing the medical workforce
  • International recruitment
  • Supporting our current NHS staff
  • Enabling productive working
  • Leadership and talent management
  • Volunteers

Three of those strands in particular – supporting current staff; enabling productive working; leadership and talent management – contain measures specifically aimed at enhancing and better utilising the skill sets of existing NHS employees. The others all involve elements of expanded recruitment, which is an alternative and much-needed route to developing the skills “the NHS requires in the decades ahead”.

It’s too soon to pass judgement on the effectiveness of the Long Term Plan in fulfilling this policy pledge, but the strategies it contains are evidence of a direction of travel that shows this to be ‘in progress’. We’ll keep tracking for clear signs of an improvement in the skills shortage across the NHS, so follow this policy to stay up to date.

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