NHS Workforce: England — [Mrs Madeleine Moon in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:42 pm on 17th July 2019.

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Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care) 3:42 pm, 17th July 2019

I will come to the number of nurses in training and related issues in a moment, to address the hon. Lady’s comments.

Associated with the long-term plan is the people plan, which clearly recognises, to reference what I said about Health Education England, the significant role of that organisation in securing the NHS workforce for the future. That is why my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care commissioned Baroness Harding, the chair of NHS Improvement, to work alongside and closely with Sir David Behan, the chair of HEE, to develop the workforce implementation plan. The interim people plan published in June set out the actions needed to change positively the culture and leadership of the NHS, making it the best place to work, which addresses the issues rightly raised about recruitment and retention.

The people plan commits to developing a new operating model for the workforce that ensures that activities happen at the optimal level, whether in individual organisations, local healthcare systems, regionally or nationally, with roles and responsibilities being clear.

On NHS workforce supply, hon. Members talked about demand for nursing and midwifery courses. The latest available evidence shows that we are starting to see a substantial rise. Data published only last week showed a 4.5% increase in applicants compared to 2018, with that being the second increase in as many years. To build on that, to ensure that we increase the pipeline of nurses coming into the profession, the Department has worked with NHS England to ensure that funding is available for up to 5,000 additional clinical placements for nursing degrees in England. The chief nursing officer for England has led work to identify and accelerate the availability of such clinical placements. It is vital that universities ensure that they take up offers and provide placements to ensure that places are filled at the end of this year’s recruitment cycle. That can happen.