• Kings Fund “dismayed” by HEE’s short timeframe between draft and final strategy
  • Nuffield Trust had “real concerns” over the strategy’s lack of detailed workforce modelling
  • Roundtable being held this week to discuss forecasts of demand and supply

The leading health think tanks are seeking to help Health Education England with the major workforce strategy it is developing, because of “real concerns” it won’t include a “robust look” at future staff supply and demand.

The Kings Fund, Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation are holding a roundtable discussion with HEE this week to ensure the document contains “a more robust look at the NHS’s future workforce needs”.

Richard Murray

Richard Murray said the think tanks were ‘dismayed’ by HEE’s timetable

They will discuss demand and supply forecasts and ways to improve long term data on these, HSJ has learned.

Candace Imison, director of policy at the Nuffield Trust, told HSJ although the decision to publish a workforce strategy was “very welcome and long overdue”, the think tank had “real concerns” over the draft strategy’s “lack of any detailed modelling for the future NHS workforce beyond 2020-21”.

“Given the scale and the depth of the current workforce problems within the NHS, we wanted to ensure that the final strategy document contains a more robust look at the NHS’s future workforce needs,” Ms Imison said.

HEE published its draft strategy at the end of last year – the first national health and care workforce strategy for 25 years. It sets out the challenge the service will face in meeting demand over the next decade. The government announced the plan in November, saying it would be published in summer 2018.

Richard Murray, director of policy at The King’s Fund, said it was “dismayed” by HEE’s timetable – “a quick consultation in December and then a product by the summer”.

“There is a question what HEE and other NHS bodies can do in this timescale,” he said.

Mr Murray said the offer of a roundtable came from the think tanks and it would involve HEE, NHS bodies, academics and others.

“No money will change hands. Both because this is just a roundtable but also because this is an area where independence is critical,” he said.

Mr Murray also stressed that the workforce strategy needs to cover both health and social care.

He said: “The social care workforce is different in important ways not least that there are elements in social care where you can increase workforce much faster. You might have more room to manoeuvre.”

Anita Charlesworth, director of research and economics at The Health Foundation said the roundtable will enable the think tanks to offer “additional feedback and advice on workforce demands and trends based on our expertise”.

Rob Smith, director of workforce planning and intelligence at HEE, confirmed its work with the think tanks and said it is a “key part” of the consultation process.

“We welcome their expert views and ideas which will feed into the final workforce strategy being published in the Summer,” Mr Smith said.