A skilled and supported workforce is essential for the effective and sustainable delivery of high quality care. Health care is labour intensive and people centred. As noted in the Health Foundation’s 2016 report on workforce, Staffing matters; funding counts, the current ability of the NHS to deliver its services is being compromised by staff shortages, planning inadequacies and an inability to make best use of the skills of available staff.

This report on the NHS workforce in England identifies significant changes and trends since Staffing matters; funding counts was published. It also represents an update to the Health Foundation’s assessment of the overall policy approach to workforce.

In addition to profiling the workforce, the report provides updated analysis of NHS staffing trends, considers the future of NHS staff and provides international comparisons with Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.

It then goes on to discuss the following two important pressure points.

  • The removal of the nurse bursary and its impact on student numbers – this looks at early evidence on the impact of switching from bursaries to student loans for nursing education in England.
  • Staff retention – analyses the current pattern of staff retention, to assess if the NHS has scope to hold on to more of its staff.

The report concludes by bringing together the Health Foundation’s analysis of the profile and trends in the NHS workforce in England, reiterating the need for a sustained and nationally focused approach to workforce policy and planning.

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