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Think tank report shows how NHS can deliver a workforce for integrated care

Uncap training places for NHS doctors and create a universal skills pass for NHS staff, recommends independent think tank Reform.

The NHS must uncap training places completely and enable Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) to attract, train and retain the staff they need, according to a paper from independent think tank Reform.

The report ‘Getting into shape: delivering a workforce for integrated care shows how the NHS can change its approach to workforce needs in the same way that it is working on other areas, to create an “adaptable workforce that can flex in accordance with demand”.

It says that the NHS workforce remains “highly centralised and tightly regulated” and that the current approach to create a workforce of “super-specialists” based predominantly in the acute sector rather than an integrated team built around patient needs has brought a “snobbish” attitude that places primary care at a lower status than secondary care.

To tackle this it makes several recommendations, including removing the cap on training places for doctors to ensure that talented individuals are not turned away from medicine; creating a universal skills pass for NHS staff to enable them to work across professional boundaries; and abolishing Health Education England to enable the General Medical Council to take over its work on training and development and STPs to take over its role in the commissioning of training.

The report has a separate section on pharmacy where it acknowledges that the expertise of pharmacists goes beyond “traditional pharmacy roles”.

“These graduates have scientific knowledge and expertise valuable to other fields, including life sciences and science teaching,” it says, adding that prospective students need to understand more about their potential employment opportunities so that they can make informed decisions on what and where to study.

Robbie Turner, director for England at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said: “The report from Reform has made some welcome recommendations to speed up the move towards a health and social care workforce which is more nimble and responsive to the changing needs of the communities in which we live.

“I look forward to the pharmacy profession playing a key role in this bright future.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20203606

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