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Government needs to ‘get a grip’ on NHS staff shortages, says damning MP report

11 May 2016 - 4:01pm

The CSP is strongly supporting a parliamentary committee’s call for an urgent review of NHS clinical staffing levels in England.

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CSP supports recommendations for strategic leadership of workforce planning

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report, titled Managing the Supply of NHS Staff in England, raises serious concerns about staffing levels, budgeting, agency costs and leadership.

Published today, the report highlights how workforce cuts have led to higher costs because more expensive agency staff have been employed as a short-term measure.

In addition, it warns that ‘no coherent attempt’ has been made to assess the headcount implications of major policy initiatives such as seven-day services.

The committee concluded that the government ‘needs to get a better grip on the supply of clinical staff in order to address current and future workforce pressures’.

The MPs on the all-party committee urged the Department of Health, NHS Improvement and Health Education England to provide stronger national leadership and coordinated support to trusts.

Sally Gosling, CSP assistant director of practice and development, said the report echoed many of the concerns about physiotherapy workforce supply that the society raised in March in written evidence to the committee.

‘We strongly support the recommendations for more strategic leadership of workforce planning and for the workforce implications of all new health policies to be fully appraised,’ Ms Gosling said.

'And we welcome the specific calls by the PAC to receive reports on the full workforce implications of delivering seven-day services and the future impact of new education and student funding arrangements on workforce supply.’

AHP workforce overlooked

The PAC has called on the Department of Health, NHS Improvement and Health Education England to issue a report on the impact of seven-day services on workforce demands by December.

Another report on the impact on the proposed demise of student bursaries should be published by the end of 2018.

However, Ms Gosling said the report only focused on NHS workforce demands, and did not tackle the CSP’s call for workforce demands across the whole of the health and care system to be considered.

Rob Yeldham, CSP director of strategy, policy and engagement, also expressed disappointment that allied health professionals (AHPs) were hardly mentioned in the report. It mainly highlighted nursing shortages, and was ‘a missed opportunity’ to flag the potential for AHPs to address workforce shortage issues, he said.

Ms Gosling concluded: ‘We will continue to make the case for considering physiotherapy workforce demand across the whole health and care system.’

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