New details emerge on NHS People Plan

Since the publication of the interim NHS People Plan in June 2019, the health and care landscape has changed significantly due to the Covid-19 pandemic. NHS England and NHS Improvement has now published the People Plan for the NHS 2020/21 which sets out an NHS workforce strategy for the coming year and a half – as well as making a clarion call to “foster a culture of inclusion and belonging” within the NHS.

The Plan sets out actions for employers, NHS England and NHS Improvement and Health Education England for the remainder of this year and into 2021. It focuses on four themes:

  • Looking after our people
  • Belonging in the NHS
  • New ways of working and delivering care
  • Growing for the future

But the Plan does not contain a commitment for new money to ensure full implementation – commenting on this NHS Confederation Chief Executive Niall Dickson said:

“The government must fulfil its pledge to provide a comprehensive and realistic multi-year settlement in the Comprehensive Spending Review in the Autumn – a settlement which supports the ambitions in the Plan to tackle a workforce crisis which every day places intolerable strains on staff up and down England.”

Overview of the Plan: key themes

  • A commitment to look after the workforce with particular focus on tackling the discrimination that staff from the BAME community can face.
  • The NHS needs more people, working differently, in a compassionate and inclusive culture.
  • Covid-19 should be viewed as “springboard” for further change and innovation - harnessing the momentum, scale and pace of transformation that Covid-19 has brought about.
  • Implementation plans will differ across settings but there is a need for local systems to work together to deliver the Plan’s principles.
  • The Plan calls for all systems to develop a local People Plan, with organisations encouraged to develop these alongside partners – including in social care and public health. In particular, all systems should review their local workforce position with providers and implement arrangements for their areas to “increase resilience and capability”.
  • On expanding the workforce fit for the future, including the plans for education and training details are pending and subject to the Government’s autumn spending review commitment.

The specific actions for each area have been neatly highlighted in a summary table produced by NHS Employers, part of NHS Confederation. You can view the table here which sets out key actions for employers, systems and national bodies in the People Plan 2020/21, including a timeline where provided.

You can view a republished version of the plan here dated 6 August 2020 – it includes a correction to a drafting error within the section ‘Belonging in the NHS’ relating to a section on equality, diversity and inclusion.

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