The Department of Health's new centre of excellence risks being 'overloaded and ineffective' if it is not given a proper purpose, the King's Fund has said.

The think tank was commissioned by the Department of Health to produce a report on the plan, first outlined in the next stage review's workforce strategy.

It has highlighted a number of potential problems the department must sort out before launching the centre, and is even calling for its name to be changed to make its purpose clearer.

Problems highlighted include:

  • the scope of the centre is "too wide ranging and ambitious";

  • the centre's name is confusing - the DH "may wish to consider an alternative name that makes it clearer what the centre will actually do";

  • the DH needs to communicate more clearly why it needs a national centre and what benefits it is expected to deliver.

The King's Fund recommends that more funding be made available to help the centre evaluate its impact.

It should be reporting regularly on its performance and its "core mission" should be defined.

Objective and credible

It proposes that this should be an "objective, trusted, credible source of workforce intelligence, analysis, and evidence for the health and social care system" to "facilitate access to high-quality leadership, technical and management development support relating to workforce strategy and planning".

But it said the majority of the people it spoke to in its research were "positive" about proposals for the centre and could see its "potential benefits".

In a written response to the report, DH director general of workforce Clare Chapman acknowledged that establishing the centre would be complex.

She said: "Your work has underlined how important it is that everyone understands the role of the centre and the value it can add to workforce planning, and that it is set clear priorities and is not overloaded."