Press release

More support needed for 'unseen' medical HR professionals

A new report by NHS Employers, which is part of the NHS Confederation, provides new insight into challenges faced by the medical staffing workforce.

26 September 2022

Around half of NHS staff who support doctors, nurses and the dental workforce with their pay, contracts and rota generation have said they are not satisfied at work and three-quarters have raised concerns about their workloads.

These are the key findings from a report from NHS Employers out today (Monday 26 September) which explores the challenges faced by people working in the medical staffing profession and how they can be better supported.

They come as the NHS continues to face a ‘staffing crisis’ with 132,000 vacancies across the country and as services grapple with staff burnout, rising care backlogs and the threat of a very challenging winter.

The medical staffing profession provide operational HR support to the medical and dental workforce and mostly sit within the HR function of NHS organisations. Around a 1,000 people work in these roles across the NHS.

They play a key role in supporting staff working across the NHS with contracts, pay, rota generation and workforce provision. This includes managing the August changeover – the largest annual rotation of doctors and dentists in training, involving more than 40,000 people.

Although many people in the medical staffing workforce felt they worked in a supportive team and were making a valuable contribution to the NHS, nearly half of them surveyed did not feel satisfied with their job role.

This was felt most strongly among staff such as rota coordinators who are on lower salary bands compared to people in management positions.

Furthermore, over half of people in the medical staffing profession believed that they did not have any dedicated time for training and development, with the main reasons cited being workload pressures, time constraints and managing tight deadlines.

Increased workload, resource and capacity constraints are the key challenges facing the medical staffing workforce, the NHS Employers report found. In the absence of any action which also addresses the visibility of the role and enhances career development, retention will continue to be an issue which will exacerbate existing staff shortages across the NHS.

In response, NHS Employers is calling on national bodies and system leaders to better meet the needs of people working in the medical staffing workforce and stands ready to support any action that is taken forward.

Paul Wallace, director of employment relations & reward at NHS Employers (part of the NHS Confederation), said:

“Staff working in the medical staffing workforce feel ‘unseen’, overlooked, over-worked and unsupported. They play a key role in supporting staff working across the NHS which has been particularly challenging during Covid as vacancies and staff absences increased. The NHS is facing a ‘staffing crisis’ and it’s important that their views are listened to or we risk exacerbating existing workforce shortages across the NHS.

“We hope this report will help provide the framework for discussions on how to work in a more collaborative way and look forward to hearing from colleagues across the system on how to make changes that create new and more effective ways of working, supporting the medical staffing profession to deliver their best for doctors, the needs of the service and patients.”

The report identifies a number of themes that national bodies and system leaders can take forward to address the challenges faced by people working in the medical staffing workforce and provides a framework for shared learning and good practice.

Themes identified from the report’s research include improving the visibility of the role, more support for people working in the medical staffing workforce, both in and across HR teams, and better workload and developmental opportunities to improve retention.

The survey was carried out between January and May2022 and received over 550 responses, with a number of focus group sessions taking place to further explore the views of around 80 people working in medical staffing profession.

It is the first survey of its kind and was sent to medical staffing personnel, their managers and HR directors in all NHS trusts across England.

Professor Sheona MacLeod, medical director of reform and professional development at Health Education England, said:

“Health Education England (HEE) welcomes this new report on the medical staffing workforce from NHS Employers. Medical staffing are a crucial part of the NHS and HEE fully supports the suggestions for valuing this workforce and ensuring they have access to further training and development.

“HEE managed rotations to ensure that our postgraduate doctors on training pathways get the best opportunities to cover the curriculum and experience of many different working environments. This movement is enabled and supported by the medical staffing workforce. When supported, their expertise can greatly reduce the stresses for doctors changing posts. With the insight from this report, we can work with teams to improve their working experience and the positive impact they can have on doctors’ training experience.

“It is important that everyone working in the NHS workforce is valued and has training pathways available to them. We will continue to promote good working relationships with medical staffing, that has included regular local meetings between trainee doctors and medical staffing representation and providing a postgraduate trainee doctor liaison officer.”

Claire Low, chair of the National Association of Medical Personnel Specialists, said:

“The National Association of Medical Personnel Specialists (NAMPS) are delighted that this vital piece of work was commissioned. The findings are useful for those working in medical staffing, and for those who work with medical staffing colleagues. We know that there is much to do to support our medical staffing specialists, who work hard in an area of HR that is a very specialised function.

“NAMPS would love to continue to work with NHS Employers on helping medical staffing specialists develop to their full potential with training and support in order that they become a much louder voice they deserve to be. Thank you to all those who took part and to NHS Employers for this extremely important report.”


About us

We are the membership organisation that brings together, supports and speaks for the whole healthcare system in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The members we represent employ 1.5 million staff, care for more than 1 million patients a day and control £150 billion of public expenditure. We promote collaboration and partnership working as the key to improving population health, delivering high-quality care and reducing health inequalities.