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RCP responds to report stage debate on amendment to strengthen workforce planning in the Health and Care Bill

The RCP has responded to MPs voting against an amendment to require published assessments of current and future workforce numbers.

RCP president, Andrew Goddard, said: “We are deeply disappointed that the amendment tabled by Jeremy Hunt MP to require independent projections of how many health and care staff we need now and in future has not passed, despite the support of 219 MPs and over 60 health and care organisations.

“There are currently no public data that tell us whether we are training and retaining enough doctors, nurses, social care staff and other healthcare professionals to deliver services in future. This is poor planning. All successful organisations rely on long-term workforce planning to ensure that they can meet demand, and the NHS and the social care system should be no exception.

“We know by 2040 that there will be 17 million people aged 65 and over in the UK, making up almost a quarter of the population. At the same time, we expect 41% of UK consultants to retire over the next decade. The opportunity to take a long-term approach to prepare for these challenges ahead has today been missed.

“Investing in the workforce will cost money – but not doing so isn’t free. As many pointed out during the debate, we spent £6.2bn on locums in 2019/20 because we did not have enough staff to fill posts full-time. Without staff to carry out additional checks, operations or appointments the recent funding given to the NHS will be limited in its impact.

“Workforce is the key limiting factor in bringing down the backlogs, delivering the government’s wider ambitions on health and care and ensuring that people can continue to access healthcare in future. We urge the House of Lords to carefully consider the value and principles of this amendment and hope the issue will be taken up by Peers in the next stages of the Bill.”