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  • NHS Long Term Workforce Plan (30 June 2023)

    • UK
    • Reports and articles
    • Pre-existing
    • Original author
    • No
    • NHS England
    • 30/06/23
    • Everyone


    The first comprehensive workforce plan for the NHS, putting staffing on a sustainable footing and improving patient care. It focuses on retaining existing talent and making the best use of new technology alongside the biggest recruitment drive in health service history.


    Train – Grow the workforce

    By significantly expanding domestic education, training and recruitment, we will have more healthcare professionals working in the NHS. This will include more doctors and nurses alongside an expansion in a range of other professions, including more staff working in new roles. This Plan sets out the path to:

    • Double the number of medical school training places, taking the total number of places up to 15,000 a year by 2031/32, with more medical school places in areas with the greatest shortages, to level up training and help address geographical inequity. To support this ambition, we will increase the number of medical school places by a third, to 10,000 a year by 2028/29. The first new medical school places will be available from September 2025.
    • Increase the number of GP training places by 50% to 6,000 by 2031/32. We will work towards this ambition by increasing the number of GP specialty training places to 5,000 a year by 2027/28. The first 500 new places will be available from September 2025.
    • Increase adult nursing training places by 92%, taking the total number of places to nearly 38,000 by 2031/32. To support this ambition, we will increase training places to nearly 28,000 in 2028/29. This forms part of our ambition to increase the number of nursing and midwifery training places to around 58,000 by 2031/32. We will work towards achieving this by increasing places to over 44,000 by 2028/29, with 20% of registered nurses qualifying through apprenticeship routes compared to just 9% now.
    • Provide 22% of all training for clinical staff through apprenticeship routes by 2031/32, up from just 7% today. To support this ambition, we will reach 16% by 2028/29. This will ensure we train enough staff in the right roles. Apprenticeships will help widen access to opportunities for people from all backgrounds and in underserved areas to join the NHS.
    • Introduce medical degree apprenticeships, with pilots running in 2024/25, so that by 2031/32, 2,000 medical students will train via this route. We will work towards this ambition by growing medical degree apprenticeships to more than 850 by 2028/29.
    • Expand dentistry training places by 40% so that there are over 1,100 places by 2031/32. To support this ambition, we will expand places by 24% by 2028/29, taking the overall number that year to 1,000 places.
    • Train more NHS staff domestically. This will mean that we can reduce reliance on international recruitment and agency staff. In 15 years’ time, we expect around 9– 10.5% of our workforce to be recruited from overseas, compared to nearly a quarter now.

    Retain – Embed the right culture and improve retention

    By improving culture, leadership and wellbeing, we will ensure up to 130,000 fewer staff leave the NHS over the next 15 years. We will:

    • Continue to build on what we know works and implement the actions from the NHS People Plan to ensure the NHS People Promise becomes a reality for all staff by rolling out the interventions that have proven to be successful already. For example, ensuring staff can work flexibly, have access to health and wellbeing support, and work in a team that is well led.
    • Implement plans to improve flexible opportunities for prospective retirees and deliver the actions needed to modernise the NHS Pension Scheme, building on changes announced by the government in the Spring Budget 2023 to pension tax arrangements, which came into effect in April 2023.
    • From autumn, recently retired consultant doctors will have a new option to offer their availability to trusts across England, to support delivery of outpatient care, through the NHS Emeritus Doctor Scheme.
    • Commit to ongoing national funding for continuing professional development for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals, so NHS staff are supported to meet their full potential.
    • Support the health and wellbeing of the NHS workforce and, working with local leaders, ensure integrated occupational health and wellbeing services are in place for all staff.
    • Explore measures with the government such as a tie-in period to encourage dentists to spend a minimum proportion of their time delivering NHS care in the years following graduation.
    • Support NHS staff to make use of the change announced in the Spring Budget 2023 that extended childcare support to working parents over the next three years, to help staff to stay in work.

    Reform – Working and training differently

    Working differently means enabling innovative ways of working with new roles as part of multidisciplinary teams so that staff can spend more time with patients. It changes how services are delivered, including by harnessing digital and technological innovations. Training will be reformed to support education expansion. It will:

    • Focus on expanding enhanced, advanced and associate roles to offer modernised careers, with a stronger emphasis on the generalist and core skills needed to care for patients with multimorbidity, frailty or mental health needs. This includes setting out the path to grow the proportion of staff in these newer roles from around 1% to 5% by the end of the Plan by:  Ensuring that more than 6,300 clinicians start advanced practice pathways each year by 2031/32. We will support this ambition by having at least 3,000 clinicians start on advanced practice pathways in both 2023/24 and 2024/25, with this increasing to 5,000 by 2028/29. We will increase training places for nursing associates (NAs) to 10,500 by 2031/32.
    • We will work towards this by training 5,000 NAs in both 2023/24 and 2024/25, increasing to 7,000 a year by 2028/29. By 2036/37, there will be over 64,000 nursing associates working in the NHS, compared to 4,600 today. o Increasing physician associate (PA) training places to over 1,500 by 2031/32. In support of this, around 1,300 physician associates (PAs) will be trained per year from 2023/24, increasing to over 1,400 a year in 2027/28 and 2028/29, establishing a workforce of 10,000 PAs by 2036/37.
    • Grow the number and proportion of NHS staff working in mental health, primary and community care to enable the service ambition to deliver more preventative and proactive care across the NHS. This Plan sets out an ambition to grow these roles 73% by 2036/37.
    • Work with professions to embrace technological innovations, such as artificial intelligence and robotic assisted surgery. NHS England will convene an expert group to identify advanced technology that can be used most effectively in the NHS, building on the findings of the Topol Review.
    • Expand existing programmes to demonstrate the benefits of generalist approaches to education and training and ensure that, at core stages of their training, doctors have access to development that broadens their generalist and core skills.
    • Work with partners to ensure new roles are appropriately regulated to ensure they can use their full scope of practice, and are freeing up the time of other clinicians as much as possible – for example, by bringing anaesthesia and physician associates in scope of General Medical Council (GMC) registration by the end of 2024 with the potential to give them prescribing rights in the future.
    • Support experienced doctors to work in general practice under the supervision of a fully qualified GP. We will also ensure that all foundation doctors can have at least one four-month placement in general practice, with full coverage by 2030/31.
    • Work with regulators and others to take advantage of EU exit freedoms and capitalise on technological innovation to explore how nursing and medical students can gain the skills, knowledge and experience they need to practise safely and competently in the NHS in less time. Doctors and nurses would still have to meet the high standards and outcomes defined by their regulator. •
    • Support medical schools to move from five or six-year degree programmes to four-year degree programmes that meet the same established standards set by the GMC, and pilot a medical internship programme which will shorten undergraduate training time, to bring people into the workforce more efficiently so that in future students undertaking shorter medical degrees make up a substantial proportion of the overall number of medical students.
    • The Plan is based on an ambitious labour productivity assumption of up to 2% (at a range of 1.5–2%). This ambition requires continued effort to achieve operational excellence, reducing the administrative burden through technological advancement and better infrastructure, care delivered in more efficient and appropriate settings (closer to home and avoiding costly admissions), and using a broader range of skilled professionals, upskilling and retaining our staff. These opportunities to boost labour productivity will require continued and sustained investment in the NHS infrastructure, a significant increase in funding for technology and innovation, and delivery of the broader proposals in this Plan.
    NHS Long Term Workforce Plan (30 June 2023) https://www.england.nhs.uk/publication/nhs-long-term-workforce-plan/
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