NHS workforce strategy: navigating challenges and charting the future
Seventy-five years ago, the establishment of the NHS was a historic achievement, representing a commitment to the health and wellbeing of millions. Initially, the service grappled with training a workforce to address health issues arising from war, poverty and diseases such as tuberculosis. Since then the population's needs have evolved, in part due to medical advancements, which have raised life expectancy by 13 years since 1948.
Today, the NHS in England has experienced immense growth, employing numerous doctors, nurses, therapists and scientists. This expansion has enabled the NHS to offer diverse care. However, there are now 112 000 job vacancies in the NHS (NHS England, 2023).
The dedication of the NHS workforce was especially evident during the COVID-19 crisis. Yet, from 2008 to 2018, challenges such as insufficient funding, suboptimal planning, and fragmented policy-making led to chronic staffing issues, a primary hindrance to improving the NHS's service delivery (The King's Fund, 2022).
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