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Next steps agreed to develop workforce and education plans

16 July 2014

Healthcare providers and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) across Kent, Surrey and Sussex have agreed that further work is needed to develop next year’s workforce and education commission plans.

HEKSS brought together over 75 representatives of commissioners, providers and local authorities on 9 July to review the five-year workforce and education commission forecasts that trusts have submitted to HEKSS. The event aimed to sense-check the combined figures and ensure they meet the needs and expectations of commissioners.

New education commissions account for around 95% of the £5bn annual budget of Health Education England (HEE) and accurate and realistic forecasting is fundamental to ensure that the NHS has the right staff to meet future needs.

HEKSS issued the planning template to 22 provider organisations in the region in late February. All but one trust returned their template by the 6 June deadline. However, the quality of returns was variable with several incomplete.

Attendees at the event decided that many of the workforce forecasts submitted to HEKSS need further work as they do not appear realistic, particularly for some nursing and therapist posts where they show significant dips in the required numbers before rising sharply again.

Several attendees from provider organisations also felt that they needed to secure greater engagement from their executive leads to ensure that the correct data are provided and signed-off.

The event concluded with an agreement to hold further events for each of the three counties in early September to review revised data and forecasts. Philippa Spicer, HEKSS Managing Director, said that she would be writing to chief executives and executive education leads at provider organisations across the region to stress the importance of executive-level engagement in the planning process.

The event included presentations from Adam Wickings, Project Director for Primary Care Strategy at Surrey and Sussex Area Team, and Hazel Carpenter, Accountable Officer for Thanet and South Kent Coast CCGs, who provided the regional and local commissioners’ perspectives on workforce and education planning.

Philippa Spicer set out HEE’s 15 year strategic framework, spoke about the support that HEKSS had made available to provider trusts to develop workforce planning capability and capacity, and talked through the workforce and education commission forecasts and data that had be received by HEKSS so far.

While the focus of the event was on the secondary care, mental health and community workforce, it was recognised that primary care must be included. HEKSS is working with the area teams and CCGs to implement a primary care workforce database and to support regional and local commissioners to develop future workforce plans, recognising the particular challenge of securing information from over 650 GP practices.

Following the county-level workforce planning events in early September, HEKSS will share the revised plans through the county partnership councils at the beginning of September, ahead of a combined plan for discussion with its governing body on 26 September. The information will then be sent as part of HEKSS draft regional investment plan to HEE later that month.

HEKSS will have a further opportunity to test out the plans between September and the next partnership councils and governing body meetings in December. HEE will publish the national workforce plan in December, with the HEKSS workforce plan published in January 2015.

For more information on workforce planning, please contact Richard Lee-Wright, Intelligence Manager.