The transformation of NHS human resources will put us in a stronger position than ever before

The first ever plan for transformation of NHS Human Resources (HR) and Organisational Development (OD) will put us in a stronger position than ever before to support staff and patients through rapid and widespread change.

Around 1.4 million people work in the NHS. Within that, 16,000 people professionals are responsible for developing and delivering one of the largest people strategies in the world. As the future of work, future of healthcare and models of care rapidly evolve and transform, people professionals play a vital role in ensuring that NHS staff get the best possible experience at work.

The future of NHS human resources and organisational development report represents a landmark moment for the NHS people profession, which I’m privileged to lead. For the first time in the NHS’s 73-year history, it clearly articulates our shared vision and how it can be realised. The report creates a baseline for people services and sets out collective goals for what we need to do to implement the People Plan and People Promise across our NHS.

Co-created with thousands of colleagues, service leaders and partners who work within and alongside our profession, this report is essentially our roadmap for delivery. In our voices, it builds on the astonishing flexibility we learned we were capable of during the pandemic and is grounded in our collective commitment to tackle real issues and opportunities. It provides a clear purpose and objective that national, system and provider people teams across our NHS can get behind; guided by eight themes. Each theme has a set of recommendations to enable delivery:

  • Prioritising the health and wellbeing of all 1.4 million of our NHS people
  • Creating a great employee experience
  • Ensuring inclusion and belonging for all
  • Supporting and developing the people profession
  • Harnessing the talents of all our people
  • Leading improvement, change and innovation
  • Embedding digitally enabled solutions
  • Enabling new ways of working and planning for the future

The trends affecting the future of healthcare form an important context for how people services need to evolve in the coming years. This strategy is set against a backdrop of rapid and widespread change and transition across health and care services. The pandemic accelerated the move towards new and innovative approaches to care and how we work and many of these changes are here to stay:

  • The introduction of integrated care systems brings a new emphasis on collaboration rather than competition, as well as increased opportunities to scale up what works and to share learning and resources
  • There is major transformation in the nature of work and what people expect from their employment, both within and beyond health and care

A shared goal we are all signed up to will put us in a stronger position than ever before to support staff and patients. By changing the way we work, the NHS and care partners can have a bigger impact on improving the lives of local populations. We can reach into our communities and reduce inequality, acting as ‘anchor institutions’ or ‘anchor networks’.

All of this will add up to a more sustainable service, attracting people who want to join us, supporting people to remain and develop with us, and facilitating high quality care for our patients and communities.

Thank you to everyone working hard in our NHS people profession, and to those of you who contributed and co-designed this report. I’m proud to work alongside you and your teams to deliver the actions outlined in this report and achieve our 2030 vision together.

Prerana Issar

Prerana Issar is the first NHS Chief People Officer. In joining the NHS, Prerana brings a wealth of expertise in leadership development and strategic talent management, as well as diversity and inclusion.

Prior to joining the NHS Prerana was Director for Public-Private Partnerships at the United Nations and prior to that she was the Chief Human Resources Officer for the World Food Programme. During this time leading the development of the United Nation’s first strategic human capital approach, as well as the reform of many key policies. Before the United Nations, Prerana worked for over 15 years at Unilever Plc, starting with them in India and then for several years was in global roles at Unilever’s headquarters in London. Her last role in Unilever was Vice-President HR for the Global Foods business.

Prerana gets her strong service ethos from her parents who were both in public service in the Government of India for close to 40 years. A proud mother to a teenage son and a younger daughter she says they keep her grounded with timely performance feedback on a variety of topics. One of the happiest days of her life was when her daughter was born at the Royal Free hospital in London, giving her first-hand experience of the NHS staff who every day deliver outstanding care to patients.