Last year, during the autumn statement, the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, promised to deliver a workforce plan with independently verified staff numbers for the next 15 years. A workforce plan would enable health and social care services to plan training, recruitment and retention of the staff needed to provide safe, effective, and compassionate care.

The Patients Association welcomed that commitment and we have expected the workforce plan ever since. We had hoped to hear further developments today from the Chancellor as he presented the Budget. Instead, the Chancellor only repeated his previous promise, and said that the plan would be published ‘shortly’.

Responding to today’s Budget, Rachel Power, Chief Executive of the Patients Association, said: “We can’t allow the current crisis in the NHS to be normalised and we can’t fix it without a long-term, fully funded workforce plan.


“The NHS is in crisis and the challenges it faces are enormous: meeting the needs of new and existing patients, the millions of people on waiting lists, dealing with the health consequences of the cost of living crisis – none of these challenges can be met without sufficient numbers of staff. This includes staff for both the NHS and social care.

“We know patients feel that the standard of care in the NHS is falling. We are in real danger of breaking the trust between the NHS and the patients it is there to support. A diminished workforce under enormous pressure and with unmanageable caseloads can’t continually provide the safe, effective and compassionate care that they want to deliver and that their patients should receive. It is also impossible for patients to become equal partners in their care and treatment on a consistent basis in these circumstances.

 “Patients and staff can’t wait any longer and the more we delay, the worse the consequences will become. Rather than vague promises about a workforce plan coming ‘shortly’, we need the Government to commit to a firm date for the plan’s publication. A fully funded, long-term plan will help both staff and patients feel confident about the future of the services they provide and need. Delaying any longer means that we are failing both.”

March 15th 2023