NHS plans new workforce for long term conditions

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 17 September 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g5667
  1. Adrian O’Dowd
  1. 1London

A workforce plan designed to cater better for people with long term conditions is being drawn up by government agencies, the Department of Health has said.

On 12 September the department published its official response1 to a report published in July by MPs on the parliamentary health committee.2 In the July report on managing care for people with long term conditions, the committee noted the need for urgent recruitment and workforce planning in primary care, to help deal with anticipated changes in focused care for these patients.

The NHS had to change to support better care planning for chronic conditions, said MPs at the time, as they feared that the issue was not being dealt with properly and was likely to get worse as demand grew. England has an estimated 15 million NHS patients with long term conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, and asthma, which account for 70% of the annual expenditure of the NHS in England—and the numbers are predicted to rise.

The July report supported the development of individual care planning for people with long term conditions and said that this would involve GPs, community health services, and specialists sitting down with patients. However, introducing personalised care planning for 15 million people would be “substantial,” it said, especially as a shortfall of 17% was projected in the primary care workforce.

In its response to the report, the Department of Health said that it had asked Health Education England to assess how well prepared the existing workforce was for these changes and how it needed to develop. It added that Health Education England was currently working with partners, including NHS England and Public Health England, as well as third sector organisations and the royal colleges, “to understand how to shape the workforce of the future.”

The department said, “This work includes determining how to support improvements in the general practice and primary care workforce such as improving the recruitment of GPs, practice nurses, and other practice staff in communities where this has been challenging, and promoting safe, effective, and proportionate routes for GPs wishing to return to practice.”

Health Education England was due to report by next month on the current position regarding the training and education of medical staff and any changes that were needed.

Overall, the government welcomed and accepted many of the health committee’s recommendations, saying, “More needs to be done to ensure everyone with a LTC [long term condition] is supported and empowered to live healthily, independently and in control of their care.”

Dominic Lipinski/PA


Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g5667


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