Validate your membership/access to the iHV Champion hub here to receive your password.
Not a member? Join here.

The Government’s NHS Long Term Plan is published today

30th June 2023

This is the first NHS Long Term Workforce Plan with record recruitment and reform to boost patient care! Record numbers of doctors, nurses, dentists and other healthcare staff will be trained in England as part of the first ever Long Term Workforce Plan, published by the NHS and backed by the Government today.

Coming ahead of the health service’s 75th anniversary, the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan sets out how the NHS will address existing vacancies and meet the challenges of a growing and ageing population by recruiting and retaining hundreds of thousands more staff over 15 years and working in new ways:

  • to put staffing on a sustainable footing
  • to improve patient care
  • to retain existing talent

The Government has backed the plan with £2.4 billion to fund additional education and training places over the next five years, on top of existing funding commitments. For the first time the Plan sets out long term workforce projections. Staffing shortfalls have been an issue since the foundation of the NHS and vacancies now stand at 112,000. The growing and ageing population, coupled with new treatments and therapies, means that without action, the gap could grow up to 360,000 by 2037.

The Plan includes almost doubling the number of adult nurse training places by 2031, with 24,000 more nurse and midwife training places a year by 2031. There is commitment that the NHS will refresh the Long Term Workforce Plan at least every two years to help meet future requirements.

Over the next 5 years:

  • Nursing degrees will increase by more than a third.
  • More training places will be offered through degree apprenticeships so staff can “earn while they learn”.

There will also be a renewed focus on retention, with better opportunities for career development, improved flexible working options, alongside government reforms to the pension scheme, should mean that up to 130,000 staff stay working in NHS settings longer.

Amanda Pritchard, NHS chief executive, said:

“This is a truly historic day for the NHS in England – for 75 years, the extraordinary dedication, skill and compassion of NHS staff has been the backbone of the health service – and the publication of our first-ever NHS Long Term Workforce Plan now gives us a once in a generation opportunity to put staffing on sustainable footing for the years to come”.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Sir Chris Whitty said:

“Ensuring the future NHS workforce and public health system will be able to respond to the future shape of health needs is essential.

The proposed reform of NHS training and staff retention will help train and retain NHS staff, assist clinicians to retain their generalist skills and create opportunities for more people to study and train in parts of the country that have historically struggled to recruit”.

Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Executive and Registrar at the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) said:

“Nursing and midwifery are rightly at the heart of this plan. Investing the time, money and effort needed to ensure we have a growing, capable, and confident nursing and midwifery workforce is the right thing to do.

There’s much to welcome. The firm commitment to nursing and midwifery as graduate professions. Increasing education opportunities and diversifying the routes to qualification through degree apprenticeships. Expanding the numbers of health visitors, school nurses and district nurses who will help deliver care and support where people need it most, in their communities”.

Alison Morton, CEO Institute of Health Visiting said:

“This long-awaited NHS workforce plan is ‘good news’ for all healthcare professions – but most importantly, for everyone in our nation that depends on the NHS being there, for them, in their time of need. At the Institute of Health Visiting, we are particularly pleased to see that the comments from those who are sighted on the finer details of the plan suggest that it extends beyond the NHS to include public health and health visiting. If fully implemented, the plan’s focus on recruitment, as well as retention and better opportunities for career development, will bring hope and much-needed sustainability back into our profession”.

The iHV is watching these developments closely and will let you know further details and how they relate to health visiting as soon as they are available.

UPDATE** – Since the publication of our news story earlier today, NHS England has released the full 151 page workforce plan. This includes welcomed information on the planned increase in health visitor training places. We are currently working through the details.

Join the conversation