The NHS should draw up talent management plans to reduce staff turnover, increase recruitment and improve diversity in leadership positions, as part of the NHS’s first equality improvement plan aimed to boost patient experience and support staff.
Every trust will be asked to roll out measures to improve staff experience and progression through mentoring and other development opportunities for staff by June 2024.
The plans could also include measures such as new apprenticeship programmes and graduate management training schemes to ensure trusts are attracting the best talent within their local communities.
The NHS workforce is already more diverse that at any point in its 75-year history, and the new proposals aim to reduce inequalities such as gender inequality, including the gender pay gap in a workforce where almost eight in ten workers are women.
Published today (Thursday 8 June), the first Equality, diversity and inclusion plan also says that psychological support should be available for all NHS staff who have been victims of bullying, harassment, discrimination, or violence by next spring.
The plan sets out six actions aimed at increasing workforce and financial performance.
Trusts have also been asked to set internal targets to reduce bullying, harassment, discrimination, and violence by March next year.
Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of NHS England, said: “The diversity of the NHS workforce is one of its greatest strengths, and the evidence shows that ensuring our staff work in an environment where they feel they belong, and can safely raise concerns, ask questions and admit mistakes, is essential for staff morale – which, in turn, leads to improved patient outcomes.
“So, today’s plan will build on progress made in recent years and target action to ensure the NHS fully supports and benefits from its diverse workforce – attracting talent, retaining skilled staff, ensuring greater diversity in leadership roles, and supporting colleagues to deliver the best possible service for our patients.”
NHS England will provide guidance to assist trusts and Integrated Care Boards in implementing this plan, supported by good practice and a dashboard to enable the measurement of progress.
Dr Navina Evans, NHS England’s chief workforce, training, and education officer, said: “With the NHS workforce more diverse that at any point during its 75-year history, it is vital that all staff are given the support they need to progress in their careers.
“Workforce diversity helps keep more staff, makes it easier to recruit staff, and improves care for patients.
“Improving equality, diversity and inclusion is everyone’s responsibility, starting with leaders I have faith my colleagues will rise to this challenge.”