New Clause 18 - Workforce responsibilities of integrated care boards

Part of Health and Care Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:00 pm on 27th October 2021.

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Photo of Edward Argar Edward Argar Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care) 4:00 pm, 27th October 2021

The new clause would place a new statutory responsibility on integrated care boards to publish, at least every two years,

“a report setting out an analysis of the current workforce, the workforce requirements to enable the Board to fulfil its duties over the following 2, 5 and 10 years, and the plans the Board has to close any gaps identified.”

Under the new clause, ICBs drawing up that report would be placed under a statutory duty of consultation with the trusts and foundation trusts in their area, providers of primary care and the recognised trade unions. The Government’s view is that that is an unnecessarily prescriptive duty on ICBs, and that clause 33 —alongside our non-legislative work and investment—remains the right way to develop the NHS workforce.

On the workforce nationally, what is needed is greater transparency and accountability for the various bodies involved in workforce planning. Clause 33 requires the Secretary of State to produce a report describing the workforce planning and supply system—including the roles of DHSC and its arm’s length bodies; NHS bodies, including ICBs and others; and how they work together—to provide that greater transparency.

To support local ICBs on workforce matters, work is already being taken forward on workforce planning through NHS England and NHS Improvement’s draft guidance to ICBs on the discharge of their functions. The draft NHSEI guidance, published in August 2021, states that the intended outcomes for ICBs will include,

“Growing the workforce for the future and enabling adequate workforce supply”,

as well as,

“Leading coordinated workforce planning”.

The guidance notes state explicitly that ICBs will have the responsibility to develop

“plans to address current and future predicted workforce supply requirements”,

which I believe addresses the core intention of the shadow Minister’s new clause.

The production of those plans will require ICBs to develop and regularly refresh collaborative workforce plans for their integrated care area, with demand and supply planning based on population health needs. As part of that work, we can expect ICBs to work with local stakeholders in their areas. ICBs will also be supported by Health Education England on such workforce planning matters. Under the guidance, ICBs will also have the responsibility to provide workforce data to regional and national workforce teams to support workforce planning and inform the prioritisation of workforce initiatives and investment decisions.

We join the shadow Minister in putting on the record our gratitude to our health and care workforce, but we think that that guidance already sends a strong signal to the system about the importance of the issue, and we therefore do not support his new clause.