Many of the NHS's biggest personnel problems should have been tackled years ago, the Department of Health head of workforce has admitted.

Many of the NHS's biggest personnel problems should have been tackled years ago, the Department of Health head of workforce has admitted.

Clare Chapman, who became director general of workforce in January, told NHS human resources directors: 'A lot of the big challenges could have been predicted three years ago and probably were. But did we really deal with them at the time? I'm not sure.'

Her comments, at the Healthcare People Management Association conference in London, follow a disastrous year for workforce leaders.

A March health select committee report called workforce planning in the NHS a 'failure'.

And in January a leaked draft workforce strategy revealed the NHS was facing a glut of 3,200 consultants and a shortage of 14,000 nurses by 2010-11.