Responding to the announcement of the NHS People Plan for 2020/21, Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, said:
“We welcome this Plan which has been a long time coming. Our staff are our greatest asset and if any evidence were needed of their dedication and commitment the terrible trauma of this pandemic has provided cast-iron proof of that. It has been a period when so many have performed heroically at a time of unprecedented strain.
“It is therefore fitting that this People Plan focusses on a commitment to look after our staff, many of whom are exhausted and now have to face up to the possibility of a gruelling winter. We also welcome the emphasis on tackling the discrimination that some staff can face which is now much to the fore given the disproportionate impact the virus has had on BME staff and the wider BME community. Recognition of the urgent need to address the safety and experience of ethnic minority staff is key and the fact that the service has carried out risk assessments for around 80% of BME staff is a an important first step and a signal of the commitment of NHS organisations to tackle this issue.
“But of course, this Plan does not contain new money and so we must regard it as an instalment, not the finished article. The Government must fulfil its pledge to provide a comprehensive and realistic multi-year settlement in the Comprehensive Spending Review in the Autumn – a settlement which supports the ambitions in the Plan to tackle a workforce crisis which every day places intolerable strains on staff up and down England.
“We must also see social acre brought into this process. It was a mistake not to bring together health and social care workforce planning. They need to be considered together and many in social care will justifiably see this as another example of them being left behind. The future of workforce planning needs to be much more local and while that is recognised in the Plan, local health leaders need the resources and the powers to shape both health and social care workforces in the difficult years ahead. ”