Commenting on a speech on the NHS workforce made today at the Royal College of Physicians annual conference (Thursday) by NHS Improvement chair Dido Harding, UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said:
“It’s good to see NHS leaders acknowledging that working for the health service isn’t what it could be and much more needs to be done if experienced staff aren’t to be lost to other parts of the economy.
“Holding on to staff is probably the biggest challenge facing the NHS. All workers across the health service need to know they’re valued and must be given the right training opportunities to use their skills and experience to move into more senior roles.
“But these urgently needed changes won’t happen on their own. New funding must allow existing staff to develop their careers and a comprehensive and rewarding apprenticeship programme is needed to bring new recruits into the NHS.
“Plans to work with health unions to find solutions so the NHS becomes a much better place to work are encouraging. Proposals for flexible working would make a real difference to the lives of staff juggling commitments outside work. But delivering this would be a major challenge without funding for extra staff.
“Staffing shortages in social care also have a real impact on the ability of the NHS to look after those in need. Unless retention issues in care are addressed, the good work planned for the health service could come undone, so it’s vital the social care workforce isn’t ignored.”
Notes to editors:
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in both the public and private sectors.