A workforce plan for the NHS - massively increasing doctor and nurse training

Yesterday the government published a new Long Term NHS Workforce Plan - which includes the largest expansion in training and workforce in the NHS’s history, delivering on our priority to cut waiting lists.

  • NHS staff are at the heart of what makes our health service work, but as with other healthcare systems across the world, our NHS is facing significant challenges.
  • That is why the Conservative government is publishing our 15-year NHS Workforce Plan, setting out the largest expansion in training and workforce in the NHS’s history. In the coming years we will train twice the number of doctors and an extra 24,000 more nurses a year and we will do more to retain our brilliant NHS staff and reform the way the health system works to ensure it is fit for the future.
  • The plans which the government has announced today will secure the future of the NHS – training more nurses, more doctors and delivering shorter waiting times. Labour's only plan for the NHS is an unwanted, unfunded, top-down reorganisation that would cost billions and is opposed by doctors.
To be ruthlessly honest, governments of every political colour have failed to address this adequately for the last thirty years. The last Labour government even put a cap on the number of UK medical school training places, of 4,500 places each year - which was left in place for far too long. Jeremy Hunt commissioned five new medical schools and increased the cap to 6,000 and Sajid Javid increased it again. 

This week's further increase finally gets us to towards training the sort of number of medical professionals which Britain should actually have been training for the last three decades. 

However, as it takes at the very least fifteen years, and usually more like two decades or longer, before a first year medical student becomes a consultant, it will take decades to resolve the shortage of medical professionals which decades of short-termism from not just politicians of all parties but parts of the medical establishment and unions (The BMA voted by a narrow margin to support capping doctor training numbers in 2008.)

I see that the Labour party has been claiming (falsely) that the government have copied their ideas for the workforce plan: in fact the plan was produce by the NHS and the government is adopting it and funding it. This is an extremely important long-term investment in the future of healthcare in the UK.



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