Innovation and changeDigital TransformationNHS People Plan launched to embrace the future medical workforce

NHS People Plan launched to embrace the future medical workforce

The NHS has published its interim People Plan, which sets out proposals for the future of the NHS workforce that follows on the Long Term Plan

With the aim at making  NHS the best place to work and creating a better leadership culture, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock launched the Interim NHS People Plan at the East London Foundation Trust.

The plan sets the transformation of NHS with multidisciplinary work, less linear careers for people working at the NHS and technology enabling people to work to their full potential as routine tasks get automated.

Matt Hancock said: “Future is so important because the NHS is the most valuable public service we have. A strong NHS, and strong public services, are the foundations of a strong society. So Britain must continue to be a place where we invest in people because we believe in the potential of people to make things better.”

The interim People Plan is structured by these themes:

  • Making the NHS the best place to work
  • Improving the leadership culture
  • Addressing urgent workforce shortages in nursing
  • Delivering 21st century care
  • A new operating model for workforce

For each of these themes, the programme sets out a summary of actions, their responsible owners and the timescale.

Healthcare Science Workforce Programme

Under the NHS People Plan, NHS will develop a Healthcare Science Workforce Programme. This programme will support the implementation of the NHS Long Term Plan and expand the frontiers of medical science and innovation, introducing new treatment possibilities for 21st century care such as whole genome sequencing, proton beam therapy and CAR-T therapy.

The programme will bring together partners to model and plan the workforce, introducing flexible entry routes, better careers, new roles and ways of working, and competency-based development frameworks. These will underpin flexible and responsive systems of education, training and leadership and build on good practice in the system. The programme will strengthen multiprofessional partnerships across education, training and workforce development to support transferability of skills and knowledge, supporting high quality outcomes and a culture of valuing the workforce.

Through the programme, NHS aims to better recognise the valued and essential work of healthcare scientists and allow their unique knowledge, skills and expertise in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to be used more effectively and efficiently.

Reflecting the digital changes

Over the next five to 10 years, NHS aims to build a medical workforce that meets changes in demand for healthcare and the expectations of patients about the ways services are delivered, reflecting the digital changes they have seen in other aspects of their lives.

Doctors will be trained to exploit real-world evidence for rapid evaluation of innovations and to engage confidently with artificial intelligence (AI) and other emerging technologies.

The reason for the NHS People Plan to focus on digital is that scientific and technological developments including genomics, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) will significantly influence how care is delivered in the NHS in the future. Technology will also enable many patients to better access care and allow others to manage their conditions working with clinicians.

The plan wants NHS leaders to create a culture where digitally supported care is the norm, where interventions are evaluated using real-world data and evidence. The objective is to attract the best technologists, informaticians and data scientists by making the NHS a destination employer for people with these skills.

The skills required to enable a modern, data-rich and digitally supported health and care service are much sought in many industries. NHS workforce will also require the right service transformation skills to implement digital change.

Technological advancements in healthcare

Recently, the NHS has been able to replace quite a lot of old technology: Slow internet, pagers and fax machines. Health sector and the NHS in particular has been able to attract funding and technology boosts. AI and machine learning have brought an easier way to manage conditions like the Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) from the comfort of patients’ own homes.

The latest technological update has been availability of NHS WiFi to millions of patients across 6,749 GP practices and 212 acute, mental health and community NHS Trusts, according to NHS Digital.

The plan will also be reforming undergraduate and postgraduate medical education.

With so many technological advancements taking place, the NHS People Plan shows glimpses of how the future public healthcare in the UK might looking like.

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