Health professionals are being invited to give their views on proposed changes to the NHS workforce.
The government’s ‘Liberating the NHS’ proposals will give local GP-led consortia responsibility for commissioning. And employers’ networks will take over many functions now carried out by strategic health authorities – such as deciding how to spend the £5-billion budget for education and training.
‘We cannot continue to expect top-down workforce planning to respond to the bottom-up changes in patterns of service that will be required by GP consortia,’ says the Department of Health consultation document.
Ann Green, the CSP’s chair of council, said that because physios work in such a wide range of areas, local planners might find it difficult to make decisions covering the diverse national workforce.
Natalie Beswetherick, the CSP’s director of practice and development, added: ‘The CSP is very concerned that there should be an overview at national level; fragmentation of workforce planning leads to a real danger of boom and bust.’
Commissioning is now done at regional level, but the new proposals will abolish the regions, she said. And physiotherapists tend to be flexible in where they work, often moving because of a new job. ‘It’s difficult enough to make sure you have adequate numbers at regional level,’ she says.
Ann Green, who is associate head of physiotherapy and dietetics at Coventry University, welcomed the Department of Health’s recognition of the professions’ continued role in training, working in partnership with universities, colleges and other education and training providers.
But she questioned the ability of local planners to make decisions with long-term national consequences for training.
‘Physiotherapy education is an expensive resource, with specialist staff and equipment,’ she says.
‘We need a commitment to planning and funding. You can’t keep turning the tap on and off.’
The CSP is preparing its response to Liberating the NHS: developing the healthcare workforce in time for the Department of Health deadline of 31 March.
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