New Deputy Chief People Officer to help make the NHS the ‘best place to work’

NHS England and NHS Improvement have appointed Professor Em Wilkinson-Brice to the role of Deputy Chief People Officer.

The new position will play a leading role in supporting delivery of the NHS Long Term Plan, by developing and implementing the NHS’ People Plan due to be published towards the end of the year, which will help the NHS become a better place to work for staff, improve leadership culture, and boost recruitment in key roles.

Em joins from Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust where she was Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Nurse.

Professor Wilkinson-Brice, said: “This is a really exciting time to be joining NHSE/I to work with Prerana to ensure that we have a workforce with the right values, behaviours and skills to deliver the best care possible for patients.

“The NHS is at its heart a people organisation – whether that is the people who need care or those delivering it – and I am delighted to be involved in a way that can help shape a new approach that makes the NHS a more inclusive and engaging place to work and that allows people to fulfil their potential to deliver compassionate care.”

She has had an extensive career working in the NHS for the past 30 years, qualifying as a Nurse in 1992 in Exeter before taking up roles in Oxford specialising in cardiology and high dependency care.

She later worked as Director of Nursing and Facilities at Derby Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, as well as working at the Department of Health and Social Care before returning to Exeter in 2010 where she has been Chief Nurse, Chief Operating Officer as well as undertaking system work within the Devon STP.

In recognition of her contribution and leadership of the nursing workforce Em was awarded an Honorary Associate Professorship with both Plymouth University and the University of Exeter.

Em has herself benefitted from some of the development opportunities on offer for NHS staff, including being part of the first cohort of the national NHS Leadership Academy Aspiring Chief Executive programme, completing it in February 2017.

Em will work part-time with NHS England and NHS Improvement during September, before taking up her new role on a full-time basis in October.

Prerana Issar, Chief People Officer for NHS England and NHS Improvement said: “I am absolutely delighted that Em is going to be joining us. To make the NHS People Plan a success, we will need to translate our work into a set of actions that make sense to NHS organisations, and support them to make change locally. I want to build a team that brings in experience from the front-line NHS so that we can get this right.

“Em’s extensive leadership and clinical experience will be vital in helping the NHS deliver on the People Plan, and the NHS Long Term Plan, to provide a world-class service to patients.”

The NHS Long Term Plan set out a number of actions the NHS must deliver to deliver a workforce of the future including:

  • providing funding for thousands more nurse clinical placements from 2019/20, a 25% increase
  • improving nurse retention by at least 2% by 2025, equivalent to an extra 12,400 nurse
  • bringing in new national arrangements to support NHS organisations to recruit staff from overseas

The interim People Plan was publish earlier in May and set out several actions services across the NHS can implement quickly to start making an immediate impact on better supporting the NHS’ workforce including:

  • Expanding the NHS’ retention scheme to all NHS trusts and into general practice. The scheme has so far helped keep more than a 1,000 nurses, midwives and other clinicians in the NHS
  • We are developing a ‘new offer’ that will set out what our staff can expect from the NHS as a modern employer. It will cover how the NHS will create a healthy, inclusive and compassionate culture as well as outlining how staff should have a voice and freedom to speak up.
  • Asking all NHS boards to set targets for BME representation across their workforce, including at senior levels by the end of 2020/21.