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ICSs handed leading role in delivering long-term workforce plan

Published on: 30 Jun 2023

Integrated care systems have been given a lengthy to-do list as part of the drive to deliver the NHS’s long-term workforce plan.

Published in full this morning, the plan gave ICSs a central role in the ambitions to recruit hundreds of thousands more staff over the next 15 years. ICSs themselves are facing a 30 per cent cut in their running budgets.

Many – including Patricia Hewitt, the author of the recent government review of ICSs – believe this will undermine their effectiveness.

According to the workforce plan, ICSs will play a “crucial role”.

It said integrated care boards and wider system partners must “prioritise actions that drive recruitment and retention of their ‘one workforce’ across health and care”. ICBs and their partner trusts will be expected to set out their priorities for workforce action in their five-year joint forward plans.

ICSs will also be responsible for addressing current and future predicted workforce supply requirements in response to local needs. The plan said this will include attracting local people into health and care careers, through work with schools, colleges, local enterprise partnerships and local communities.

“This will ensure education and training planning is an integral part of both operational and strategic service, financial and workforce plans,” it added.

The plan stated: “ICSs and NHS England will all have a role in leading and commissioning sustainable education supply, including the supply of educators…

“To support ICSs, from 2024 we are committed to moving to a position where nationally, education and training plans are formulated at least three years in advance. This would support a more strategic approach to delivering the right pipeline of staff across the NHS, thereby minimising inefficiencies and delivering better value for money.”

It continued: “We anticipate that as ICSs become more involved in education and training planning, there will be an opportunity to develop more multiprofession, system-based rotational clinical placements.” 

This is expected to include extending the provision of placements across primary, community and social care, as well as in the independent and voluntary sectors.

Other asks of ICSs include developing local apprenticeship strategies that “maximise benefits from changes to funding approaches, and to focus on workforce shortfalls and the deployment of roles that enhance patient outcomes”; and working “with partners to support the recommendations of the Fuller Stocktake for innovative employment models and adoption of NHS terms and conditions in primary care”.

NHSE said ICSs will be supported by expanding seven existing pilots (trailblazers) to “demonstrate the benefits of more generalist approaches to education and training”.