Hancock delivers ‘bureaucracy-busting’ pledge

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has welcomed the launch of the new NHS People Plan as he launches a new bureaucracy-busting drive so staff can spend less time on paperwork and more time with patients.

The NHS People Plan brings about a new government recruitment, retention and support package, which sets out practical support for well-being such as safe spaces to rest and recuperate, well-being guardians and support to keep staff physically safe and healthy.

The government says that the People Plan and a new bureaucracy-busting call for evidence will work together to find and promote positive changes made before and during the current coronavirus pandemic. This could include allowing staff to use secure messaging services like WhatsApp so patients can benefit from rapid access to information and making it easier to link millions of primary care records to the latest data on coronavirus, helping government do the world’s largest analysis of coronavirus risk factors.

The latest announcement says that, from January 2021, all job roles across NHS England and NHS Improvement will be advertised as being available for flexible working patterns, while organisation will be encouraged to build on the interest of clinical staff who returned to the frontline to support during the pandemic by encouraging former staff to return to practice as part of a recruitment drive during 2020 to 2021.

Alongside this, the guidance indicates that all NHS organisations will be expected to complete risk assessments for vulnerable staff, including black and ethnic minority colleagues, and take action where needed. This means that every NHS trust, foundation trust and clinical commissioning group (CCG) must publish progress to ensure that at every level the workforce is representative of the overall black and ethnic minority workforce.

The Department for Health and Social Care will also work with universities to increase over 5,000 undergraduate places from September 2020 in nursing, midwifery, allied health professions and dental therapy and hygienist courses, whilst also providing a new £10 million fund for clinical placements for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals to support employers in educating and training the next generation of professionals. The mental health and cancer workforce will be boosted by offering training grants for 350 nurses to become cancer or chemotherapy specialists.

Hancock said: “Every single person working in the NHS has contributed to an unprecedented national effort to beat back this virus and save lives. They have protected us and in return this government will do everything in its power to protect and support them. By making the NHS the best place to work we’ll recruit and retain more talent and deliver 50,000 more nurses, 6,000 more doctors in general practice and 26,000 staff primary care professionals.

“Our NHS people deserve to get on with caring for patients and this crisis has proved there’s bureaucracy that our healthcare system can do better without. So I’m urging people across the NHS and social care to speak up about what red tape you can do without to allow you to better deliver the high-quality care you are renowned for.”

Prerana Issar, NHS chief people officer, said: “This plan aims to make real and lasting change in our NHS to benefit our hardworking staff. It includes practical actions based on what our people tell us matters to them, including a more equal, inclusive and flexible organisation. The pandemic has created huge challenges, but it has also highlighted the courage and innovation we are capable of in the most difficult of times. We have recognised the need for consistently high-quality health and wellbeing support for our staff, so they can better care for themselves and their patients. These changes must remain part of the blueprint of our NHS as we move forward together.”

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