• Interim workforce plan will be launched by the beginning of April
  • Will set out “opportunities” which require “funding beyond current levels”
  • “Deep dive” on international recruitment
  • HEE strategy will not be published, but it says the feedback on its consultation will be used

Officials will identify “further opportunities” for easing the NHS’s workforce shortages which require additional government funding, in time to set out the asks in the spring, according to a document seen by HSJ.

The NHS Improvement governance document for the workforce implementation plan says interim proposals will be published “at the beginning of April”.

It says this plan will “articulate further opportunities that could be realised subject to funding beyond current levels”. The project will identify “further commitments/actions subject to [the 2019 spending review] (essential vs nice to have) or other reprioritisation processes”.

A “full plan” will be published “within two months of the final” spending review – the date for which the government has not yet chosen and is dependent on Brexit.

Among other things, the interim plan in April will “provide more clarity and detail to the 10-year workforce vision set out in the LTP, and “set out… actions the NHS will take in 2019-20 to deliver that vision”. It will set the agenda for the new NHE Improvement and England “people function”. The regulators advertised for a new chief people officer post in September but have not yet named their recruit.

The document also reveals the Department of Health and Social Care will conduct a “deep dive” review on the contentious subject of international recruitment for the health and social care secretary.

Meanwhile, Health Education England – which consulted on a draft workforce strategy more than a year ago – told HSJ it was “working closely” with NHS Improvement and NHS England on the new plan, and it would ensure it “benefits from the comments we received from stakeholders last year on the draft workforce strategy”. That strategy is now not expected to be finalised or published.

British Medical Association council chair Chaand Nagpaul said for the long-term plan to have a chance it must “be supplemented with additional resources for a coherent workforce strategy”.

Jon Restell, chief executive of Managers in Partnership, said more funding needed to be allocated in the spending review, especially on restoring continuing professional development budgets, and further pay investment.

“We also support calls for a national fund to support employers to make apprenticeships a viable route for supply in all occupational groups,” he said.

A Royal College of Nursing spokesman said it wanted an extra “£1bn per year” to be put into nursing education “without further delay”.