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RCP view on NHS workforce planning: the case for transparency and accountability

The RCP has published a position paper setting out how we can ensure that we have sufficient workforce to meet future demand. 

Throughout the pandemic, the NHS and health and care staff have done all they can to provide care to patients with and without COVID-19. Clinicians have worked incredibly hard – often outside their usual area – but workforce challenges have hampered our response to the pandemic. 

There are many lessons to learn from the pandemic – having a well-staffed NHS is one of them. The forthcoming health and care bill is an opportunity to establish transparency and accountability on long-term workforce planning.  

Having the right amount of health and care staff – including doctors, nurses, medical associate professionals, allied health care professionals and those working in social care – is the only way to keep up with patient demand and improve retention. 

The RCP is calling for: 

  1. The number of medical school places to be doubled over the next decade, with a specific focus on widening participation in medicine 

  2. Introducing legal duties in the health and care bill to ensure transparency and accountability on whether we are training enough people: 

  • A duty on a national ‘designated body’ to regularly publish workforce projections. 

  • A duty on the secretary of state for health and social care to respond to projections with a plan for what government will do. 

We will assess the legislation when it is published later this year following the Queen’s Speech, and continue to push for an expansion of the health and care workforce underpinned by a sustainable funding settlement.