The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists welcomes the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan which sets out, for the first time, a long-term approach to training, retaining and recruiting NHS staff.
The plan covers a fifteen year period and the UK Government has confirmed £2.4 billion, over existing funding commitments, for the first five years to support an expansion of training places, as well as degree apprenticeships and other associate roles. The plan’s workforce projections will be refreshed at least every two years.
Dr Ranee Thakar, RCOG President, comments: “The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has been calling for a long-term NHS workforce plan for several years, to tackle the significant pressure that services delivered by our members are currently facing, and the impact that staff shortages are having on patient care.
“Today’s publication is an important milestone and we welcome it, with some caution. The ambitions set out will only be achieved with sufficient resource and investment for the full 15 years of the plan, and a huge commitment across the NHS to its delivery.
“We will continue to champion the needs of the people using NHS obstetrics and gynaecology services, and our members, as this plan is delivered. We know that an appropriately staffed service is good for patients and good for staff.”
The plan includes an increase in medical specialty training places by September 2024 to more than 2,000 over three years, as well as 1,000 additional specialty training places focusing on areas with the greatest shortages, including maternity services.
NHS England anticipate upwards of 4,270 starters on midwifery programmes are likely in 2023/24, a 13% increase on 2021/22. More midwives will be trained through traditional, shortened and degree-level apprenticeship routes, with an ambition for 5% of the annual intake for midwifery training to come through apprenticeship routes.
Alongside this, there will be a focus on retention in midwifery, such as through a new preceptorship for newly qualified midwives, and a commitment to fund continuing professional development for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals.
The RCOG will now undertake a detailed review of the plan, to fully understand the opportunities this presents for gynaecology, obstetric and wider maternity services and staff, and ensure the College is aligning our support to delivering these.