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MPs to examine how to end staff drain from NHS and social care to tackle workforce crisis

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Health and Social Care Committee New Inquiry

Reasons behind staff leaving the health and social care sectors and how to tackle them will be examined in a new inquiry launched today. Workforce recruitment and training will also be explored.

The Committee has heard repeatedly that more staff will be needed to meet future demand and deal with the backlog caused by the pandemic. Existing staff shortages affect the current delivery of services to patients. 

Evidence has cited poor workforce planning, weak policy and fragmented responsibilities as contributing to a workforce crisis, exacerbated by the lack of a national NHS workforce strategy.

It has been estimated that by 2030/31, up to almost half a million extra health care staff would be needed to meet the pressures of demand and recover from the pandemic – the equivalent of a 40% increase in the workforce.

Solutions to be considered include reducing the training period for doctors, removing a cap on the number of medical places offered to international and domestic students, and the ideal balance between the domestic and international recruitment of health and social care workers.

Health and Social Care Committee Chair Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP said:

“We are facing a workforce crisis in health and social care of such proportions that it risks undermining every plan to tackle the backlog, meet the demands of an ageing population, and fix social care.

“It is deeply disappointing that the government yesterday rejected the chance to overhaul workforce planning to make sure we are training enough doctors and nurses for the future so this new inquiry will look in detail at every aspect of staff training, recruitment and retention to help make the momentum for change unstoppable.

“Welcome though the new funding for the NHS is, without staff to spend it on we risk disappointing patients and demoralising staff.”

The Workforce recruitment, training and retention in health and social care inquiry builds on recommendations of previous reports, Social care: funding and workforce published last year and  Workforce burnout and resilience in the NHS and social care published in June.

The Committee invites written submissions addressing any, or all, of the following points:

What are the main steps that must be taken to recruit the extra staff that are needed across the health and social care sectors in the short, medium and long-term?

What is the best way to ensure that current plans for recruitment, training and retention are able to adapt as models for providing future care change?

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What is the correct balance between domestic and international recruitment of health and social care workers in the short, medium and long term?

What can the Government do to make it easier for staff to be recruited from countries from which it is ethically acceptable to recruit, with trusted training programmes? 

What changes could be made to the initial and ongoing training of staff in the health and social care sectors in order to help increase the number of staff working in these sectors? 

In particular:

  • To what extent is there an adequate system for determining how many doctors, nurses and allied health professionals should be trained to meet long-term need? 
  • Do the curriculums for training doctors, nurses, and allied health professionals need updating to ensure that staff have the right mix of skills?
  • Could the training period for doctors be reduced?
  • Should the cap on the number of medical places offered to international and domestic students be removed?

What are the principal factors driving staff to leave the health and social care sectors and what could be done to address them?

Are there specific roles, and/or geographical locations, where recruitment and retention are a particular problem and what could be done to address this?

What should be in the next iteration of the NHS People Plan, and a people plan for the social care sector, to address the recruitment, training and retention of staff?

To what extent are the contractual and employment models used in the health and social care sectors fit for the purpose of attracting, training, and retaining the right numbers of staff with the right skills?

What is the role of integrated care systems in ensuring that local health and care organisations attract and retain staff with the right mix of skills?

Evidence should be submitted here Wednesday 19 January. Written evidence should be no more than 3,000 words.  Guidance on submitting written evidence is available here

Committee membership:

Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP (Chair) (Conservative, South West Surrey); Lucy Allan MP (Conservative, Telford), Paul Bristow MP (Conservative, Peterborough), Rosie Cooper MP (Labour, West Lancashire), Dr Luke Evans MP (Conservative, Bosworth), Barbara Keeley MP (Labour, Worsley and Eccles South), Taiwo Owatemi MP (Labour, Coventry North West), Sarah Owen MP (Labour, Luton North), Anum Qaisar-Javed MP (SNP, Airdrie and Shotts), Dean Russell MP (Conservative, Watford), Laura Trott MP (Conservative, Sevenoaks).

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