• NHS Improvement says trusts would benefit from “reviewing, upgrading and strengthening” workforce planning
  • Regulator to recruit new “chief people officer”

NHS Improvement has called on trusts to strengthen their workforce plans, after a review found all of them could be “more robust”.

The regulator has said most trusts would benefit from “reviewing, upgrading and strengthening” their systems for developing workforce plans.

In response to its findings, NHSI has created a toolkit to help trusts improve their plans and increase participation from senior leaders and managers.

The toolkit will help trusts identify areas of improvement in their workforce planning systems by getting them to self-assess “five key environmental factors that contribute to the development of a workforce plan”.

The factors are: leadership; technology; information, method and governance; engagement and integration; and strategy. NHSI said it represents a “good opportunity to further understand good practice approaches in this area”.

NHSI said it expects trusts to use the toolkit this year to improve their workforce planning for 2019-20.

The regulator also announced its intention to create a “chief people officer” role, but could not provide any further details at this stage.

Mark Radford, nursing director at NHSI, said: “Effective and robust workforce planning is an important asset for trusts in their efforts to provide patients with good quality care.”

Mr Radford stressed some trusts need support on “making changes to how they work in this area”.

“We have created an easy to use tool which will enable them to reflect upon their current approaches to workforce planning and identify areas for improvement,” he added.

HSJ reported earlier this year that trusts will face a formal assessment by NHSI to ensure they are using safe staffing guidance and making “safe and effective decisions”.

NHSI executive nursing director Ruth May said it was developing work to make sure trusts are “having a proper quality impact assessment process and a proper decision making process that is auditable and at board level”.

Ms May stressed that NHSI wants safe staffing guidance to be used properly and “not left on the shelf”.