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Health and care leaders say the Health and Care Bill must be strengthened to improve workforce planning

See the latest information and briefing on workforce planning in the Health and Care Bill.

The Royal College of Physicians, alongside the British Medical Association, Royal College of Nursing, NHS Providers, NHS Confederation, Macmillan Cancer Support and others, has signed a briefing proposing an amendment to the Health and Care Bill that would strengthen workforce planning. 

Ahead of the first hearing of the Health and Care Bill Public Bill Committee (7 September 2021), health and care organisations have issued a joint briefing to Minister for Health Ed Argar and other MPs about a proposed amendment to Clause 33 of the Health and Care Bill. 

Clause 33 currently sets out a new duty for the Secretary of State to publish a report once a parliament ‘describing the system in place for assessing and meeting the workforce needs of the health service in England’. While this new legal duty will bring clarity on the process of workforce planning, it falls short of what is needed given the scale of the challenge facing the health and care system.  

Clause 33 as it currently stands means the system still will not know whether it is training and retaining enough people to deliver health and care services now and in the future. 

Today’s briefing signed by the RCP and other organisations proposes an amendment to Clause 33, so that every two years the Secretary of State must also publish independently verified assessments of current and future workforce numbers consistent with the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) long-term fiscal projections. 

What is the proposed amendment?  

Clause 33 - Report on assessing and meeting workforce needs  

“After section 1G of the National Health Service Act 2006 (but before the italic heading after it) insert— 

     1GA Secretary of State’s duty to report on workforce systems 

  1. The Secretary of State must, at least once every two years, lay a report to parliament describing the system in place for assessing and meeting the workforce needs of the health, social care and public health services in England. 

  2. This report must include  

  3. an independently verified assessment of health, social care and public health workforce numbers, current at the time of report publication and the projected supply for the following 5, 10 and 20 years 

  4. an independently verified assessment of future health, social care and public health workforce numbers based on the projected health and care needs of the population for the following 5, 10 and 20 years, consistent with the Office for Budget Responsibility long-term fiscal projections 

  5. NHS England and Health Education England must assist in the preparation of a report under this section. 

  6. The organisations listed in subsection (3) must consult with health and care employers, providers, trade unions, royal colleges, and any other persons deemed necessary for the preparation of this report, taking full account of workforce intelligence, evidence and plans from local organisations and partners within integrated care boards.” 

Explanatory notes 

This amendment would require published assessments every 2 years of the workforce numbers required to deliver the work that the Office for Budget Responsibility estimates will be carried out in future, based on projected demographic changes, the growing prevalence of certain health conditions and likely impact of technology. 

How would this amendment work? 

The OBR predicts likely healthcare spending by projecting likely healthcare activity, considering demographic changes and other factors such as the changing cost of healthcare, the impact of technology and the rising prevalence of certain health conditions. The proposed amendment asks for published assessments of the future health and care staff numbers required to be based on those OBR projections and the assumptions tied up in them. It is a way to ensure that we have the staff numbers required to deliver the work that the OBR estimates we will need to carry out in future.  

Projections of this kind should inform local and regional training and recruitment needs. They should also underpin a long-term workforce implementation strategy that sets out how we can improve recruitment and retention to meet the number of health and care professionals we need.  

Why do we need this amendment? 

Workforce is a key limiting factor in delivering high quality integrated care. Regular, independent and public workforce projection data will not solve the NHS workforce crisis. But it will give us the best foundations to take long-term decisions about funding, workforce planning, regional shortages and the skill mix needed to help the system keep up with patient need. The bill is a vital opportunity to establish greater accountability and transparency on workforce planning to ensure we can meet patient demand now and in future. 

What next? 

The Royal College of Physicians will be working with others in the health and care sector to raise the issue of workforce planning throughout the passage of the Health and Care Bill through parliament.  

Who's involved


This amendment is supported by:

  1. Academy of Medical Royal Colleges
  2. Age UK
  3. Alzheimer’s Society
  4. Association for Palliative Medicine of Great Britain and Ireland
  5. Association of British Clinical Diabetologists
  6. Association of British Neurologists
  7. Association of Cancer Physicians
  8. Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation
  9. Bliss
  10. Blood Cancer UK
  11. Bowel Cancer UK
  12. Brain Tumour Charity
  13. Brain Tumour Research
  14. Brain's Trust
  15. Breast Cancer Now
  16. British and Irish Association of Stroke Physicians
  17. British Association of Dermatologists
  18. British Association of Sexual Health & HIV
  19. British Cardiovascular Society
  20. British Heart Foundation
  21. British Medical Association (BMA)
  22. British Nuclear Medicine Society
  23. British Pharmacological Society
  24. British Society for Haematology
  25. British Society for Rheumatology
  26. British Thoracic Society
  27. Cancer Awareness for Teens & Twenties
  28. Cancer Black Care
  29. Cancer Research UK
  30. Cancer52
  31. Centre for Mental Health
  32. Children with Cancer UK
  33. Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group
  34. Clinical Genetics Society
  35. CLL Support
  36. Crohn's & Colitis UK
  37. Diabetes UK
  38. Faculty of Dental Surgery
  39. Faculty of Physician Associates
  40. Faculty of Public Health
  41. Faculty of Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare
  42. Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine
  43. Grace Kelly Childhood Cancer Trust
  44. Health Foundation
  45. Independent Age
  46. Intensive Care Society
  47. Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust
  48. Kidney Cancer Support Network
  49. Kidney Cancer UK
  50. Macmillan Cancer Support
  51. Medical Schools Council
  52. Mencap
  53. Mental Health Foundation
  54. Mesothelioma UK
  55. Mind
  56. Myeloma UK
  57. National Voices
  58. NHS Confederation
  59. NHS Providers
  60. Nuffield Trust
  61. One Cancer Voice
  62. Ovacome
  63. Ovarian Cancer Action
  64. Pancreatic Cancer UK
  65. Parkinson's UK
  66. Prostate Cancer UK
  67. Rethink Mental Illness
  68. Royal College of Anaesthetists
  69. Royal College of Emergency Medicine
  70. Royal College of General Practitioners
  71. Royal College of Midwifery
  72. Royal College of Nursing
  73. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
  74. Royal College of Ophthalmologists
  75. Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
  76. Royal College of Pathologists
  77. Royal College of Physicians
  78. Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
  79. Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh
  80. Royal College of Psychiatrists
  81. Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh
  82. Royal College of Surgeons in England
  83. Sarcoma UK
  84. Society for Acute Medicine
  85. Society for Endocrinology
  86. Solving Kids Cancer
  87. Stroke Association
  88. Sue Ryder
  89. Target Ovarian Cancer
  90. Teenage Cancer Trust
  91. The King's Fund
  92. The Richmond Group
  93. UK Kidney Association
  94. UNISON
  95. Young Lives vs Cancer
  96. Young Minds