Promoting partnership working in the NHS

SPF response to draft workforce strategy

The draft workforce strategy for health and social care was published by Health Education England (HEE) in December 2017, and was open for consultation until March 2018. The SPF responded to the consultation in a letter to Ian Cumming, Chief Executive, HEE. The SPF response was informed by the views of employers and trade unions, nationally and regionally. 

Dear Ian

SPF: Workforce Strategy Consultation

We write jointly on behalf of the NHS Social Partnership Forum to outline some key points in response to the proposed Workforce Strategy for the English NHS.

We are grateful for the engagement of HEE, DHSC and other ALB colleagues in the period while the draft strategy was being prepared and since its publication. We highlight the collaborative and engaging approach taken by your colleague, Giles Denham, in his discussions with us. We look forward to this engagement continuing during the finalisation of the strategy and believe that the SPF, as the main vehicle for partnership working in the NHS, will be key to the prioritisation and delivery of the strategy. We would also highlight the importance of engagement with staff-side organisations in the reports being commissioned into the mental health of learners, and the impact of technology on our workforce in the future. We would welcome your response as to how this engagement might be ensured through our structures. 

In our discussions with Mr Denham in November 2017 we suggested the following areas where the SPF can play a role in the delivery of the strategy:

  • The welcome focus on careers not jobs
  • The non-registered ('support') workforce
  • The vital role of line managers
  • Equality and inclusion
  • Staff experience

Individual partners will of course be providing detailed commentary on behalf of their members, however as co-chairs of the SPF we want to highlight specific areas which we agree need addressing in the immediate (2018) implementation phases of the strategy:

1. Continuing Professional Development (CPD) funding

We are alarmed that there has been such a dramatic reduction in the funds available to employers to support clinical staff undertake postgraduate training. We urge the government to restore funding streams to their historic levels to support the essential training and retention of our clinical workforce. 

2. Migration policy

Many members of the SPF also come together via The Cavendish Coalition to work collectively across health and social care to ensure that government policy addresses the workforce implications of Brexit. We support the development of new policies on migration which ensure the contribution of valued and much needed overseas colleagues to our teams.

3. Apprenticeships

We recognise the contribution that high quality apprenticeships are making to the long-term availability of talent for the NHS workforce. We welcome the efforts of DHSC and HEE to co-ordinate approaches to apprenticeships across the NHS and the engagement there has been with trade union colleagues in this work. We support greater flexibility in the use of the levy for the NHS both in relation to the required additional 'day release' of NHS apprentices for certain programmes, and the time needed by clinical staff to supervise and support their apprentices. 

Also enclosed in Annex A, is a summary of feedback from Regional SPFs discussions around the draft strategy - regional colleagues from HEE attended some of these meetings.