New healthcare roles needed to tackle UK nurse shortages, says report

The Health Foundation backs creation of nursing practitioner and nursing associate roles

New healthcare roles need to be created to tackle staff shortages and reduce reliance on recruitment of nurses from abroad, according to a report.

The Fit for Purpose report by The Health Foundation charity said that developing nursing practitioner and nursing associate-type roles should be priorities for NHS workforce planners in England.

The health improvement charity said: ‘Where conventional roles are too difficult to recruit, resistant to change or too expensive to maintain, policymakers have been arguing for decades that new roles can offer an affordable solution.’

The report stated a radical overhaul of how the NHS plans, trains, regulates, pays and supports its staff is needed to deal with significant nursing shortages.

A trained nursing associate role, which would sit at band 4, is being developed by Health Education England.

The Health Foundation recommended that existing national committees are reconstituted as a national workforce strategy board to provide strategic leadership on workforce policy in England.

The report said:

  • Workforce policy in England is heavily centralised with detailed pay, terms and conditions agreed in national negotiations
  • Insufficient attention is being paid to staff engagement, work-life balance, stress, morale and supportive management, which are critical to the recruitment and retention of staff
  • All four UK countries should develop a strategic health workforce framework
  • Ending automatic pay progression is likely to remain an important negotiating aim for government and employers

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