Today, the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan was published, laying out the action to be taken locally, regionally and nationally to address current NHS workforce challenges.
Commenting on the plan, Heidi Travis, our Chief Executive, said:
“The publication of the Government’s NHS Long Term Workforce Plan is an important step towards addressing the systemic workforce issues facing the health and care sector. We welcome the Plan’s recognition that workforce challenges are not unique to the NHS and that the voluntary sector is critical to the overall provision of services and delivery of care.
However, we are deeply concerned that the Plan only considers workforce demand from NHS services. Failure to specifically consider workforce demand in the charitable hospice sector shows a lack of recognition of the vital support they provide and risks worsening the deepening workforce crisis within the sector.
Charitable hospices are an essential part of the health and care service and help ease the burden on other NHS services. They are the main providers of specialist palliative and end-of-life care in the UK, supporting 300,000 people every year across all settings.
All elements of our health and care system must be considered on an equal basis, to prevent unintended consequences for vital services that sit outside of the core NHS structure. Not specifically considering workforce demand in the hospice sector is a missed opportunity and risks patients not getting the palliative care they need as there will not be enough staff to provide this care.”
Workforce issues in the hospice sector threaten the provision of palliative and end-of-life care services both now and in the future. Unless action is taken to address these workforce shortages, there is a serious risk that more and more hospices will have to close beds and care for less people, which means that patients will lose out on receiving the high-quality, holistic care hospices provide. With so many already not getting the palliative care they need (1) we cannot afford for more patients to lose out on this essential care.
The Government must publish long-term workforce plans that consider workforce demand across the whole health and social care system, including charitable hospices. This is essential in preventing unintended consequences for vital services that sit outside the core NHS structure but are a critical part of a functioning healthcare system.
1) Von Petersdorff C, Patrignani P, Landzaat W. Modelling demand and costs for palliative care services in England: A final report for Sue Ryder. London Economics 2021.