NHS England Workforce Plan: FNF response

Responding to the publication of NHS England’s Long Term Workforce Plan, Chief Executive Officer of the Florence Nightingale Foundation Professor Greta Westwood CBE said:

‘As a charity dedicated to supporting and developing nurses and midwives to improve care and save lives, the Florence Nightingale Foundation welcomes the publication of this long-awaited plan. This is an important milestone aimed at addressing the most serious workforce crisis the NHS in England has ever faced.

Nurses and midwives are the largest clinical workforce in the NHS, so it’s vital that this plan delivers for them. We are, therefore, pleased to see that the future of nursing and midwifery is at the heart of the growth and training commitments announced today. With more than 40,000 nursing vacancies in England, we are particularly pleased to see plans to nearly double the number of adult training places by 2031 and a commitment to diversify the routes to qualification.

We also welcome the Plan’s focus on retention. Latest figures from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) show that almost 27,000 people left the register in the past year, with many citing burnout, workload, and concerns over care quality as reasons for leaving earlier than planned. It is critical not only to train more nurses and midwives but to also retain those already on the NMC Register, including the 1 in 5 internationally educated nurses and midwives.

This plan is a first step towards a more sustainable future for nursing and midwifery careers in the NHS. However, it needs long-term funding to provide the reassurance and stability that nurse and midwife leaders need to deliver safe and high-quality healthcare with confidence. Increasing numbers of nurse and midwife students also needs investment in the educator workforce in both clinical and academic settings.

We know from our work supporting and developing thousands of UK nurses and midwives every year, that when nurses and midwives are enabled to connect, lead, and influence healthcare they become transformational leaders. By building leadership capability and capacity across every level of the nursing and midwifery workforce, including in the early career, we are helping our NHS retain its valuable workforce.’