Intended for healthcare professionals


Former NHS boss accuses government of “wilful blindness” over workforce planning failures

BMJ 2022; 376 doi: (Published 27 January 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;376:o227
  1. Adele Waters
  1. The BMJ

The government faced damning criticism in parliament this week about its failure to set a long term workforce plan for the NHS.

A consistent refusal to spell out how many staff the health service required, with clear deadlines and a pathway for how it would deliver the extra numbers, meant that the NHS had been under-resourced ahead of the covid-19 pandemic, had struggled during the outbreak, and would now face further pressures to deal with the elective backlog of cases, parliament heard.

During a debate in the House of Lords on 24 January about the Health and Care Bill, now at committee stage, Simon Stevens—an independent crossbench peer who stepped down from his role as NHS England chief executive last year—accused the government of “wilful blindness.”1

He said, “It is a statement of the blindingly obvious, particularly coming out of the pandemic, to say that we need better workforce planning at a time when staff are exhausted from having …

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