According to The Kings Fund, workforce-related problems are now the biggest threat to the NHS. NHS staff vacancies have risen by over 15% in the past year and will reach over 350,000 by 2030. Resultantly, 25% of doctors feel burnt out and 70% of junior doctors are working on under-staffed rotas, with 38% of staff feeling unwell due to overworking. Furthermore, violence towards staff from patients rose by over 15% in the past year and one fifth of NHS doctors were bullied by fellow staff in 2017 at an estimated cost of £2 billion per year. Finally, leadership inequalities are rife among NHS boards, evidenced in that 40% of doctors are from BAME backgrounds, yet only 7% make up trust boards.
This wealth of workforce crises must be tackled. In aiming to do so, the January 2019 NHS Long Term Plan vows to provide NHS trusts with the staff backing that they need by expanding the number of workers and building a more supportive culture via a comprehensive New Workforce Implementation Plan. This plan will operate in partnership with Health Education England to establish a National Workforce Group to support Local Workforce Action Boards in promoting staff well-being and workforce transformation. It also prioritises the ongoing improvement of NHS staff skills through continued professional development following 2018 figures showing that ongoing training investment is only a third of its 2014/15 amount.
In November 2018, Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock announced the NHS Violence Reduction Strategy, prioritising the NHS working alongside police units to reduce violence towards NHS staff. Additionally, the Department of Health and Social Care’s (DHSC) November 2018 Barriers and Enablers report and Leadership Development programme aim to promote effective NHS leadership on boards, with Matt Hancock vowing to promote leadership diversity.
The additional £20 billion of funding directed towards the NHS in the October 2018 Autumn Budget provides a real opportunity to ensure that strategic policy successfully resolves the NHS’s workforce crises. However, given the worsening nature and range of these issues, funding alone cannot solve everything. NHS workers must come together to co-ordinate a strategy and disseminate best practice for the sake of both NHS staff and patients.
This Forum will provide an opportunity to explore the threat posed to healthcare provision by a range of NHS workforce challenges and strategise how to overcome them. Attendees will discuss with leading policymakers how to best deal with wide-scale vacancies, skill shortages, violence towards staff, bullying within staff and leadership inequalities. Delegates will also learn from best practice case studies that are implementing successful strategies to deal with the multitude of crises within the NHS workforce that have arisen over recent years.
This Forum will bring together leaders from across the NHS and Health Sector. Typical job titles will include:
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