RCR President Dr. Nicola Strickland said that the RCR welcomes the suggestions of the NHS Improvement's (NHSI) "Interim NHS People Plan" for England, which repeatedly commits to putting comprehensive workforce planning at the heart of NHS operational planning. In addition to providing a good overview of the complex influences on NHS staffing, the report describes a clear framework for cultural change and improved leadership within the health service, as well as a direction for modernizing training and improving retention, according to Strickland.
"It is refreshing to see NHSI spell out the growing staff void that faces the NHS without mitigation -- mirroring shortfall calculations that are now depressingly routine forecasts from the RCR and others -- as well as the plan's backing of recruitment and retention solutions that have been repeatedly called for by the sector," she said in a statement. "We are also very pleased to see the interim plan's focus on the digital future of the NHS, particularly as the development of big data, artificial intelligence, genomics, and personalized medicine are fundamental drivers in both clinical imaging and clinical oncology care."
Although the report does provide sensible conceptual foundations for the future, building a sustainable NHS will unequivocally require national funding for more people and equipment and serious conversations around pensions disincentives, Strickland said.
"In addition, many of the plan's key aspirations -- such as joined-up working across health teams, flexible working for staff and trainees, and myriad digital innovations -- are totally dependent upon the introduction of interoperable IT systems and IT networks, which must not be left to local enterprises to navigate alone, without national oversight and accountability," she said.
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