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Introduction and context

Health Education England (HEE) is a non-departmental public body accountable to the Secretary of State and Parliament. We are part of the NHS and work with partners to plan, recruit, educate and train the health workforce.

We serve the people of England by educating, training and developing healthcare professionals. We oversee undergraduate and postgraduate health education and training for around 240,000 students and trainees across 350 different roles, including doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, healthcare scientists, pharmacists, and physiotherapists. We also provide planning, transformation and development support to the NHS workforce, for now and the future.

We collaborate with others at global, national, regional, system and local levels over the short, medium, and long term. In particular we partner with NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE/I) and support both Regional and System People Boards. These boards currently carry out Local Education and Training Board (LETB) functions and bring together stakeholders around workforce, education, leadership and organisational development.

The COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally changed how the NHS operated last year and will continue to have consequences for years, with 2020/21 focussed on recovery and developing a ‘new different’ operating model. We all came together to face the pandemic and our relationships with trusts, universities, trades unions, professional bodies and regulators strengthened as a result.

The pandemic continues as we plan to deliver the Government’s proposed workforce expansion and support record numbers of applications for clinical courses. Our delivery of core education and training this year will be impacted both by catching up for learners and ongoing service demands (including new testing and vaccination). The availability of service staff to support our work will be impacted by their health and wellbeing due to increased absence rates, mental health risks and burnout.

ICSs will be vital partners and we will support their transition into statutory bodies and subsequent development, as well as NHSE/I’s Operating Model review, developing approach to improvement and emerging System Oversight Framework and planning processes as we learn lessons from the pandemic.

Over 90% of our budget is allocated to educating and training the future workforce through universities and health providers. Over the next 12 months the ongoing impact of the pandemic on the NHS, the nation and the globe will be a factor in how we budget, plan and deliver our priorities. Closer working with social care, cooperation and collaboration with stakeholders and looking after our people and learners will be vital to how we deliver our objectives, including the proposed workforce growth.