Investment in employer hubs – joining general practices and other NHS organisations with further education colleges – is needed to tackle the number of workforce vacancies across the NHS and social care, a report has claimed.
With about 90,000 NHS vacancies and more than 120,000 in social care, a new report says the hubs would focus on supporting local people to enter or progress careers in health and care. Creating the Workforce of the Future, written by the NHS Confederation and the Independent Commission on the College of the Future, says integrated care systems in England would play a key role by bringing colleges into their strategic system workforce planning.
The organisations call for the Government to invest £5 million over two years for to set up employer hubs in each of the seven NHS regions in England and to support the creation of a Health and Care College Council in England, with £2 million funding over three years. They also call for colleges to be a key partner in the local delivery of the national NHS People Plan, which was published in July.
Danny Mortimer, deputy chief executive of the NHS Confederation, and chief executive of NHS Employers, said: “The Government’s commitment to level up the country, tackle regional inequalities and solve the workforce crisis across health and social care will fall flat without targeted action to improve supply including investment in colleges to support local upskilling, retraining and recruitment into these vital roles.
“Over the course of the pandemic, the spotlight has shone bright on the hard work and dedication of key workers, highlighting how essential they are to the health and wealth of their communities. The pandemic has also starkly highlighted a number of underlying issues, which if we are to attract more people into NHS and social care roles, must be addressed without delay.”
Amanda Melton, commissioner for the Independent Commission on the College of the Future and principal and chief executive of Nelson and Colne College Group, added: “Colleges are a key education and training route for key workers and the recommendations in this report provide an opportunity for them to do even more. We need to develop the relationship between colleges and the NHS to best meet serious workforce challenges. The role and contribution of colleges within the education and skills system, and specifically in the minds of large employers such as the NHS is all too often poorly understood. With these recommendations, we have an opportunity to unlock their potential to develop strong and sustainable pathways into NHS careers for local people using tangible steps.”