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Monday 02 April 2018

Don’t ignore support staff in workforce plans, says MiP

By MiP

MiP has welcomed the draft NHS workforce strategy, published by Health Education England (HEE) in December, but called for more investment and attention for the “wider NHS workforce” – including managers and support staff – and warned that staff shortages cannot be tackled without more investment in the NHS.

The draft workforce strategy for England, Facing The Facts, Shaping The Future, is the first attempt to devise a coherent plan for the NHS workforce for 25 years. It sets out six “principles” to support better workforce planning: boosting the supply of skilled staff, investment in training and education, improving career pathways, widening participation, modernising employment practices and “joining up” service, financial and workforce planning.

Safe support staffing

In its submission to HEE’s consultation, MiP called for the adoption of indicators for required levels of support staff, similar to those already in place for clinical staff.

“Just as there are staffing level indicators for clinical staff in relation to patient activity, there could also be ones which map out the required level of staff working in the wider workforce in relation to clinical staff and patient activity,” said MiP’s submission. “The development of such ratios could in itself demonstrate the value placed on this group of staff and guide employers on what is the bottom-line.”

The union criticises the continuing under-investment in training for support staff, who make up 40% of the NHS workforce but receive only 5% of the training budget. The submission stated: “Investment is key for this group, which includes many with the lowest level of pay and status, in order for them to be both effective in their ‘day jobs’ and have worthwhile and progressive careers.

“The strategy needs to give a loud and clear message that making the time to train and learn is as important as “doing the day job” in order to secure the long-term future of the workforce,” MiP added.

MiP says the workforce strategy must ensure that all NHS staff feel valued. “There are some staff groups which feel that they are valued less than others,” said the submission, adding that managers are “a case in point as they have the responsibility to take actions to manifest valuing staff at the same time as being a group of staff which is valued less, especially by those outside the health and social care system.”

Best employment practice

MiP also argues that ensuring an adequate future supply of skilled staff is about “more than getting the size and nature of the supply lines right” and must include best employment practice and adequate investment in NHS services.

“The impact of best employment practice includes: encouraging staff to remain in and want to pursue careers in the workforce; increasing productivity as staff perform better; and promoting the NHS and care system as an attractive place to work,” said the document.
MiP endorses HEE’s view in the draft strategy that current staff shortages are the result of “a historic disconnect” between service planning, financial planning and workforce planning. “However, the most significant determinant on the size of the workforce has always been how much money is invested in the NHS,” the union said.

Consultations on the draft workforce strategy have now closed, and the final strategy is expected to be published in July 2018. Read MiP’s submission in full

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