Amendment to the Health and Care Bill to strengthen workforce planning

Published: 23/11/2021

The Royal College of Anaesthetists is one of over 60 organisations, including 11 Royal Colleges, the BMA and NHS Providers, supporting an amendment to the Health and Care Bill tabled by former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP to strengthen workforce planning.  

The amendment to Clause 34 of the Health and Care Bill will be voted on by MPs today (23 November) and if passed would require the Secretary of State to publish independently verified assessments of current and future workforce numbers every two years consistent with Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) long-term fiscal projections. 

Why do we need the amendment?

Clause 34 of the Bill currently places a duty on the Secretary of State to publish a report describing the system in place for assessing and meeting workforce needs once a parliament. This will bring clarity to workforce planning but given the scale of the challenge facing the health and care workforce, it does not go far enough. The duty as currently proposed will not tell us whether we are training enough people now to deliver health and care services in future. 

The non-legislative approach to workforce planning has not worked. Regular, independent, and public workforce projection data will not solve the workforce crisis. But it will provide strong foundations to understand how many staff will be needed in future to meet demand. The data should act as a tool to make strategic long-term decisions about investment in the workforce based on evolving changes in patient demand and working patterns among staff, such as a growing proportion of doctors working part-time.