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The NHS employs over 1.3 million staff, working in around 300 different types of jobs for more than 1000 employers. Effective workforce planning is key to ensuring that the service has enough staff, with the right skills and values to be able to provide excellent patient-centred care, now and in the future.

Health Education England (HEE) is responsible for providing system-wide leadership and oversight of workforce planning, education and training for the health service.

NHS service providers are working with HEE and education providers - through their Local Education and Training Boards (LETBs) - to ensure the right staff are entering the workforce at the right time, and in the right numbers. To this end, employers are required to produce annual service plans, and future workforce forecasts, which in turn, inform local and national plans. Find out more about the responsibilities of HEE, LETBs and education and service providers on the Health Education England website

The pages below contain advice and guidance to help you think about the shape and make up of your workforce, as multidisciplinary and partnership working becomes increasingly necessary for delivering patient centred services. The information may refer to specific parts of the workforce, but the principles will be applicable across the NHS. Use the links on the right to access further information and tools to help you with your workforce planning.


Workforce supply

Workforce supply is about much more than recruitment; a good workforce strategy should use evidence-based approaches to address current challenges and should be sustainable and focused on the future. 

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Medical workforce

Planning and shaping the medical workforce continues to be the subject of intense scrutiny and debate. This section looks at how NHS Employers is influencing this debate and how organisations can get involved.

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Nursing workforce

A number of developments and drivers are changing the context of healthcare, and nursing. Being aware of these priorities as you plan what staff you need, is vital to the provision of excellent patient care.

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Education and training

Students of today become our future workforce so the delivery of high quality education and placements results in employers having staff who are ready to deliver the job and types of services needed for patients.

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Support workforce

Over 340,000 support workers are employed in the NHS. They provide support to the full range of professionally qualified clinical staff in all health and care settings, and fundamental care to patients and clients.

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Agency workers

Agency workers and temporary staff in general are a widely used resource within the NHS and can play a vital role in helping NHS organisations manage fluctuations in demand, as well as covering for periods of short term workforce shortage.

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Diversity and Inclusion

Equality, diversity and inclusion continue to be at the heart of the NHS strategy. These pages help you to think about how you can plan and build a diverse workforce which represents the community it serves.


Electronic Staff Record

The Electronic Staff Record (ESR) is the national workforce data system used across the NHS in England. It can be used as a tool to help you analyse and plan the shape of your workforce.

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Recruiting from your community

Recruiting from your community can help with your workforce supply challenges. Find out who may be missing from your workforce by using our digital tool, and read our resources to see how you can engage with and recruit from groups in your local area.

Related News

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Read about NHS Improvement's new guide to support employers with addressing retention of the workforce.

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Government publishes new report on tackling social disadvantage

Read about the latest plan launched by the government on tackling social disadvantage through education, work and training.

View article

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