The much-anticipated Long Term Plan was met with calls by patient organisations and healthcare professionals to publish a comprehensive workforce strategy alongside the Plan in order to effectively fulfil the commitments it set out.
We have detailed three key areas impacting the brain tumour community.
A large section of the plan was suitably devoted to nurses, outlining proposals to plug major gaps in this vital workforce.
There are around 40,000 reported vacancies in substantive nursing posts (with 80% of these shifts currently covered by bank and agency staff) and the full workforce plan will enable the NHS to grow nursing workforce by over 40,000 by 2024, ultimately reducing vacancy levels to 5%.
One of the biggest commitments is increasing the undergraduate supply of nurses.
NHS England will work with Higher Education Institutions to look to expand clinical placement capacity from September 2019 by 25%, equating to around 5,000 placements.
We have similarly identified nurse shortages in the brain tumour workforce.
We found shortages in Clinical Nurse Specialist for low-grade patients and to date, have funded three posts across the UK.
GP workforce is another key area in the interim People’s Plan, highlighting the need to increase the supply as well as improving GPs experience and workload.
NHS England have committed to increasing the number of doctors working in primary care by 5,000 and will implement a new two-year Primary Care Fellowship Programme that offers new qualified GPs – and nurses entering primary care – a secure contract of employment.
They have also committed to fund a package of measures to tackle workload pressures and improve the retention of GPs and other clinical staff in primary care.
Better retention and improved workload will allow GPs to spend more time with their patients.
This is particularly pertinent for our community as one in three patients needed to visit their GP five times or more before receiving their diagnosis.
Larger focus on multidisciplinary teams
The Long Term Plan announced a £4.5bn of new investment to fund expanded community multidisciplinary teams aligned with new primary care networks.
By 2023/24, these primary care networks will receive investment rising up to £891, to grow the primary care workforce and deliver new and expanded services for local communities.
We know how effective multidisciplinary working is in improving outcomes for those with a brain tumour.
It is one of three essential components of the gold standard patient pathway – the Integrated Multidisciplinary Care Model – which we will roll out in all neurocentres in the BRAIN-MATRIX.
Whilst the Interim People’s Plan looks promising, we look forward to the publication of the full workforce plan and will keep our community informed on its impact in the brain tumour workforce.