NHS People Plan: Make your voice heard


What’s going on?

We Are The NHS: People Plan 2020/21 – Action For Us All was released on 30 July 2020. It follows the Interim NHS People Plan  released on 3 June 2019 and the NHS Long Term Plan (LTP) which was published at the start of 2019.

The People Plan focuses on the current financial year 2020/21, but its principles are intended to endure beyond this. Further detail on aspects of the plan will follow once the government clarifies the available budget for workforce, education and training – this is expected in this autumn’s spending review.

The Plan is set out in four broad themes:

  1. Looking after our people
  2. Belonging in the NHS
  3. New ways of working and delivering care
  4. Growing for the future

You can read more about each theme in the main document and read a summary here.

What does this mean for me?

The People Plan sets out what NHS staff can expect from leaders and each other. The NHS People Promise, outlines the actions and behaviours staff should expect from their employers and colleagues, as part of improving the experience of working in the NHS for everyone. It builds on work through the NHS Social Partnership Forum on turning the “making the NHS the best place to work” section of the Interim People Plan into reality.

It includes actions to support transformation, with a focus on fostering “a culture of inclusion and belonging”, as well as actions to increase and train the workforce, and deliver care in different ways. This means improving the experience of Black, disabled and LGBTQ+ staff working in the NHS.

In summary, “the NHS needs more people, working differently, in a compassionate and inclusive culture.”

The plan also focuses on improving the health, safety and wellbeing of staff, ensuring effective Infection Prevention Control measures, access to appropriate Personal Protective Equipment and risk assessments for vulnerable staff. Staff need proper rest and a work environment free from bullying, harassment, abuse and violence. The plan sets out ambitious plans to support staff to manage their health and wellbeing through a new Wellbeing Guardian role.

The People Plan issues a rallying cry for the NHS to harness the “energy, creativity and drive in finding solutions to new problems” that has been demonstrated by healthcare staff during the Covid-19 pandemic. Plans for recovery should include “a strong focus on looking after our people.”

What does UNISON think?

UNISON – along with other unions – has been calling for a focus on staff and workforce issues for many years, so has welcomed the Plan as a step forward. We are vocal advocates for the health, safety and wellbeing of staff, including issues of violence, stress and long hours working. We also hear from you how you feel the NHS could be more inclusive, compassionate and fair for all staff.

Throughout the pandemic staff have worked above and beyond their normal roles, looking after patients and each other. This plan contains many positive ambitions but it will require commitment from the NHS system to deliver and sustain these new ways of working.

Many of the ambitions outlined in the Plan to improve staff morale or boost recruitment and retention are inextricably tied to levels of pay and we think there is a major missed opportunity to link any of the People Plan aims to staff reward.

We have urged the Government to allocate proper funding to make the Plan a reality, in particular investment for an early and significant pay rise.

Make your voice heard

The plan aims to produce what it calls a “movement for improvement”, in which systems work with staff and employers to develop local people plans to deliver the ambitions set out in the national document. Regional and system People Boards will oversee this work.

Where UNISON branches or regions engage with People Boards, the development of these local plans provides a chance for the union to have an input into the way the national plan is implemented locally.

The People Plan promises that there will be a continuing programme of engagement (such as webinars, discussion groups and roundtables) for the rest of this year, and we will cascade any information we receive about such events through regions.

There may also be further notices posted on the People Plan part of the NHS England website: www.england.nhs.uk/ournhspeople.

So please get involved in the conversation where you work.



Resources for branches

If your employer is talking to members about what matters in your workplace, UNISON branches have an important role to play.

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