The NHS is the biggest employer in Europe and the world’s largest employer of highly skilled healthcare professionals. Over 1.3 million people across the health service in England are devoting their working lives to caring for others. However, it is a well known fact that in the last 10 years, the NHS hasn’t had enough staff. Due to this scarcity of staff, working in the NHS as a nurse or any health professional has become a stressful task as the staff fails to create a good balance of work and personal time. Even though there are more people who want to go to university to study nursing and medicine, there are not enough places available. As the performance of any healthcare system ultimately depends on its people, the NHS is committed to take essential steps to make the situation better for its staff. One of the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan is to solve the issue of staff shortage by taking the following steps-
One of the ways the NHS is addressing the shortage of staff immediately is through recruiting internationally. This means highly-skilled people from other countries from whom it is ethical to recruit will be able to join the UK healthcare industry. The changes to the immigration rules in 2018, which exempted all doctors and nurses from the immigration cap, have facilitated more responsive routes for recruiting staff in these professional groups. Other than this, the ‘Workforce Implementation Plan’ will explore the potential to expand the Medical Training Initiative so that more medical trainees from both developed and developing countries can spend time learning and working in the NHS.
More University Places, Especially For Nursing
To ensure a sustainable overall balance of the staff group, NHS is taking action to set up more training options eg. universities, online courses etc. so that the demand meets the supply. The workforce group is keen to take action on increasing the number of undergraduate nursing degrees, reducing attrition from training and improving retention, with the aim of improving the nursing vacancy rate to 5% by 2028. The main source of new nurses is through undergraduate education and, while other routes are important, restoring growth in this route is central to the success of the Long Term Plan. 22,200 applicants were accepted into English nursing courses in 2018, a higher number than in seven of the last ten years. Even though the total number of applications fell, there were still nearly two applicants for each place offered. Another aim is to make training more accessible. This means establishing a new online nursing degree for the NHS, linked to guaranteed placements at NHS trusts and primary care, with the aim of widening participation. The launch of this programme depends on the speed of regulatory approval.
Increasing Retention Rate
Growing the NHS workforce will partly depend on retaining the existing staff. Measures like allocating more budget and investing more money into workforce development will be taken so that staff can learn and develop their skills and progress in their career. Steps are being taken to ensure offering more flexibility to the current staff in regards to times and days in order to maintain a healthy work life balance. Respect, equality and diversity will be central to changing the culture and will be at the heart of the workforce implementation plan. By extending this kind of support to all NHS employers, and NHS is committed to improving staff retention by at least 2% by 2025, the equivalent of 12,400 additional nurses.
To know more, visit – About the NHS Long Term Plan
Source: NHS Long Term Plan
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