Giving nurses more flexibility in their roles, and even reducing the length of training required to become a nurse, could help tackle the NHS workforce crisis, a health policy adviser has argued. of the Prime Minister.
In an article commissioned by the King’s Fund and charity Engage Britain, Bill Morgan, who was appointed health adviser to Rishi Sunak this month, says there are a number of political hurdles to tackle effectively against NHS manpower shortages and suggests a number of solutions, including blurring the lines between the roles of nurse and doctor.
The research, written before entering Downing Street but published this week, Mr Morgan identifies difficulties in workforce forecasting, a tendency to under-train healthcare staff and ‘under-use strategic’ of overseas recruitment as crucial barriers to building a sustainable NHS workforce.
“Planning for future healthcare workers is difficult,” Mr Morgan wrote. “At the heart of this difficulty is the time it takes to train a health professional…and the likelihood that by the time trainees enter the labor market, the world will be very different from the one in which health planners labor had prepared.’
To solve this problem, the document suggests that the NHS could “reduce the time needed to train a doctor or a nurse, either by reducing the training time required by law or by increasing the number of doctors and nurses trained through shorter post-graduate courses”.
Morgan also advocates making it easier for staff to move between professions, so it would take less time for an associate nurse to train as a registered nurse or for a nurse to train as a doctor. It is hoped that this will create a more flexible workforce that will better adapt to the uncertainties inherent in workforce forecasting.
Responding to the suggestions, Geraldine Walters, NMC’s executive director of professional practice, said Nursing in practice: ‘For most RNs, nursing is not seen as a progression route to becoming a doctor. We would prefer to see a long-term sustainable workforce plan that includes greater career development within nursing as a profession in its own right.
“This could include more training opportunities to help nurses work at a more advanced clinical level. This would allow them to provide a wider range of care and treatment in tandem with their unique nursing skills. In our view, more educational opportunities would be more beneficial to patients than encouraging qualified nurses to retrain as physicians would.
As well as developing a more flexible workforce, Mr Morgan also proposed the introduction of more transparent workforce reporting and an independent workforce planning organization. NHS Pay Review Body style.
Workforce forecasts should be made public to expose them to external challenges and shed light on government assumptions, he argued.
It comes shortly after the government recommitted to launching a long-awaited long-term NHS workforce plan in the autumn statement.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: ‘This report raises significant issues about the NHS workforce, which we are already taking action to address.
“We have tasked NHS England with developing a long-term plan for the NHS workforce for the next 15 years, and have over 34,500 more staff than a year ago, including over 9,300 nurses and nearly 4,000 more doctors.”
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