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Workforce planning

Providing system-wide leadership and oversight of workforce planning.


With over 1.3 million staff performing over 300 different types of jobs across more than a 1000 different employers, the NHS requires a robust workforce planning process to ensure we have staff in the right numbers, with the right skills and the right values and behaviours to deliver high quality care.

At Health Education England (HEE), part of our core role as an autonomous national body is to provide system wide leadership and oversight of workforce planning, education and training. We will work to ensure that healthcare staff are recruited in the right numbers with the right values and behaviours to support the delivery of excellent healthcare and drive improvement.

You can read more about our national workforce planning, including the Workforce Plan for England, on our national page.

Following review of the 2014 process we have made some changes for 2015 to ensure we spend more time discussing investment choices and the implications of workforce planning in relation to workforce supply.

Why workforce planning is important

We are planning in a complex and changing environment, with a great deal of uncertainty. Our investment choices tackle the current supply issues and anticipate the future needs, allowing for flexibility of response to new service models that are yet to emerge. Our investment in 2015 will:

  • Help ensure security of future supply;
  • Develop existing staff who will be providing care in the future and
  • Support workforce transformation projects which will pave the way to new ways of working and adoption of new roles.

Our investment in 2015

  • Commission 6% more nursing pre-registration training places, 12% more places for AHPs.
  • Increase the number of training opportunities for staff in bands 1-4, including apprenticeships and assistant practitioners places, as part of our commitment to widen participation and up skill existing workforce.
  • Implement outcomes from commissioning reviews including fundamental review of nursing education.
  • Support the new training route for Paramedics with over 600 paramedic students receiving training on the job by the end of the year.
  • Increase the number of medical training commissions in General Practice and Emergency Medicine pathways.
  • Invest our transformation funds into developing skills of the existing workforce.

Our approach to planning investment in 2016

Building on the progress of 2014 we intend to achieve further improvements in both the efficiency and the effectiveness of the workforce planning and education commissioning process by focusing on the following:

  1. We will build on the work carried out in 2014 by undertaking further strategic planning sessionswith stakeholders to ensure that the identified workforce priorities that will guide our investment in education and workforce development reflect the needs of the Five Year Forward View and the workforce needs of the local health economies. We will host a dedicated event in each of the four Workforce Partnerships areas using this as a launch point for discussions about the workforce priorities and the education and development actions throughout the planning round.
  2. We will make more effective use of workforce intelligence, particularly the information about current and future supply, in order to inform the development of providers’ plans early in the process. Forecast supply intelligence along with the work we do on destinations of newly qualified graduates and workforce flows will help us to understand staff movements and strengthen the link between workforce plans, commissioning plans and retention of newly qualified output by commissioning and training employers.
  3. We will both develop education commissioning plans and consult on these with a wide range of stakeholders before making final investment decisions.
  4. We will be seeking greater alignment of system plans with our planning partners (NHS England, CCGs, TDA and Monitor) through sharing of workforce intelligence, including workforce and education information. Our information gathering processes will be more transparent, and providers should be aware from the outset that their workforce forecasts and education commissioning plans will be made available to partners in order to improve the quality of system planning and the quality of patient care.
  5. Analysis of workforce and education commissioning plans will involve a greater amount of triangulation work and evidence assessment. When assessing the plans we will be seeking evidence to support the key lines of enquiry relating to the National Quality Board (NQB) staffing guidance and the NICE guidance on safer staffing to assure ourselves that patient needs are fully reflected in both workforce and education plans. Challenge and review sessions with providers will be led by Workforce Partnerships. Regional plans will be reviewed by a LETB multi-professional forum.
  6. We will roll out a new web-enabled tool for collection of providers’ workforce forecasts to ensure efficient flows of information.

Our webpages will be updated regularly based on our 8 stage plan. Please do visit the pages to keep to up to date with information or contact Carly Schoepp at carly.schoepp@nhs.net for queries.

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