Royal College of Physicians (RCP) president Professor Jane Dacre gives her view on Health Education England’s NHS workforce strategy.
After the release of Facing the Facts, Shaping the Future – a draft health and care workforce strategy for England to 2027, Professor Dacre said:
Health Education England’s (HEE) NHS workforce strategy is a welcome addition to the debate on improving the working lives of physicians. It is encouraging that HEE has acknowledged the current workforce shortages and we look forward to working collaboratively to alleviate the problem.
We know that many junior doctors often feel that their training can be inflexible and limited in scope, therefore it is welcome to see concepts such as the ‘modern firm’ and our chief registrar scheme named as positive and innovative ways to improve the working lives of junior doctors. Added to this, we look forward to working with HEE to progress our pilot scheme on ‘flexible portfolio careers’ within specialties.
Effective team working is a critical part of improving patient care and supporting trainees in their working lives, as laid out recently in our Improving teams in healthcare reports, and it is therefore welcome that this is such a focus within the strategy. The medical team in which trainees work is rapidly changing and how medical professionals will work with physician associates (PAs), advanced clinical practitioners (ACPs) and other healthcare professionals is an area that needs particular attention. However, an emphasis by HEE on a need to value and support staff and associate specialist (SAS) grade doctors is reassuring.
HEE have the responsibility for the ‘supply’ part of the workforce equation and are making good progress in financially challenging times. However the ‘demand’ side of the equation remains a big issue and workforce losses towards the end of career, though outside HEE’s control, must not be overlooked.