The pay and workforce draft strategy documents seen by HSJpaint a picture of just how demanding 2007 will be for the human resources profession.

The pay and workforce draft strategy documents seen by HSJpaint a picture of just how demanding 2007 will be for the human resources profession.

HR directors have already felt growing frustration at how Agenda for Changehas imposed such high costs with little or none of the promised benefits being produced ñ ¡®d resent being blamed for not pulling levers that barely exist. As the document argues, back-pay claims based on AfCare seen as the single biggest risk in estimating future costs. And HR directors will be less than understanding that the staffing implications of reforms like choice and the 18-week target are coming so late in the day.

The papers are an argument for a shift from a planned approach to workforce strategy to a 'market model' fitting with overall reform. In other words NHS employers should concentrate on what they need rather than managing supply. But in this transitional period between the two, HR professionals have to manage the fact that it is neither one thing nor the other. And in some areas the documents push against the messages of last year, such as much more positive noises about the use of temporary staff to make costs more flexible.

This turbulence is an inevitable by-product of a shift that is a belated echo of wider modernisation. But it will be HR professionals who will be spending their first weeks back from holiday trying to work out how to navigate a very difficult year.