• The government is engaging with unions and employers to create a package for NHS staff
  • HSJ understands there is link to improve staff retention
  • NHS Employers warns the offer should not create new regulation for employers

Ministers and NHS leaders are holding discussions to draw up a new “offer” to the NHS workforce to help boost staff retention, HSJ understands.

The package – which HSJ believes is due to be announced around the NHS’s 70th birthday – has been described by senior sources as a “wish list” of items that ministers think NHS staff want.

HSJ understands it could include an offer for new continued professional development funding. Other areas that have been discussed include help with child care, a bullying hotline and body cams for paramedics and other emergency workers.

Sources close to the talks have said money will be invested in the package, but it is unclear how much of it will be new money.

NHS Improvement confirmed that Ian Dalton met with NHS trust chief executives at the NHS Confederation’s annual conference last week to discuss the NHS workforce and NHSI’s support for the sector.

It emerged over the weekend that the deadline for Health Education England’s 10 year workforce strategy will be delayed, so that proposals can be submitted to the Treasury ahead of November’s Budget, when full detail of the settlement will be revealed.

Sources have told HSJ that the workforce package currently under negotiation is seen as pulling aspects of the workforce strategy forward.

HSJ has also learned that unions have been asked to put their views forward during the engagement process.

One source said the move was a “loose link” to the ongoing efforts to boost staff retention and the talks had centred on what amounted to a “long wish list of stuff that ministers think staff want. Some are rubbish, others are OK.”

They added that while some new money had been provided, the majority would need to be found from existing budgets. 

Approached by HSJ, Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers said “no employer would argue with the NHS setting out what good looks like in terms of the employment offer”.

”This is a challenge to employers which they will accept, and many are already doing good work in this area already,” Mr Mortimer said. “And they will have no problem with it as long as it informs the current regulatory approach rather than creating new ones.”

He added that while the government has made a “significant investment in pay for NHS staff”, there is “still a role for them to play”.

“For example, the need to restore lost investment in CPD funding sits nationally and not with local employers,” he added.

The Department of Health and Social Care declined to comment when approached by HSJ.