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Monday 04 July 2022

HEE’s Navina Evans to head new single workforce function in England

By MiP

Official portrait of Navina Evans, chief workforce officer

MiP has welcomed the appoinment of Dr Navina Evans as head of a new single, integrated workforce function to oversee the entire NHS workforce in England, merging the functions of NHS England’s People Directorate and Health Education England (HEE).

With the merger of NHS England and HEE under the 2022 Health and Social Care Act, the NHS workforce, training and education functions in England will be brought under a single banner for the first time. The move will also see NHS England’s internal HR and organisational development (OD) functions moved to the chief delivery officer directorate.

Evans (right), currently chief executive of HEE, will assume the role of chief workforce officer alongside her existing HEE role from 1 July until the merger takes effect in April 2023, when she will become the chief workforce, training and education officer. NHS England’s acting chief people officer, Em Wilkinson-Brice, will take on the new role of national director for people, reporting to Evans. Wilkinson-Brice will be responsible for staff wellbeing as well as implementing the NHS People Plan and the findings of the Messenger review.

MiP chief executive Jon Restell congratulated Evans on her appointment but warned that the NHS workforce function needed to strike a better balance on several fronts.

“With over 100,000 vacancies and high levels of staff burnout throughout the system, there is significant work ahead,” he said. “The workforce function must pay attention to infrastructure and clinical support staff as much as registered clinicians; to retaining existing staff as much as recruiting and training new staff; and to pay and reward as much as staff experience.

“Leading the sustained investment in leadership and management, urged by the Messenger review, will be an important priority, as will supporting the HR Futures programme.”

“Combining the external NHS workforce role with internal HR and OD for NHS England has always created tension,” he added. “Splitting them out makes sense, but a strong internal HR function is vital to support key staff, including hundreds of MiP members, through the merger of NHS England, NHS Digital and HEE.”

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