The health and justice inclusive workforce programme

The health and justice inclusive workforce programme was created in response to the NHS People Plan (2020/21), to help enable health and justice commissioned services tackle issues relating to workforce recruitment and retention. Health and justice commissioned services relate to health services provided in prisons, young offender institutions, immigration removal centres (IRCs), secure children’s homes, secure training centres and support services at the initial stages of the criminal justice system and post custody.

The inclusive workforce programme aims ‘to improve the recruitment and retention of a larger, more diverse, inclusive and representative workforce for all health and justice services and programmes’.

The workforce challenges for health and justice services are similar to those faced by the wider NHS, with the additional challenge of delivering care within secure settings, to patients and service users that often experience a wide range of significant health inequalities, and all whilst working closely with our partner agencies (ie. the police, courts, prisons, young offender institutions, secure children’s homes and IRCs).

These unique settings present exciting learning and development opportunities for healthcare staff, as well as the potential to make a significant difference. Patients and service users within these settings typically present with a wide range of health and social care needs at an extremely vulnerable and difficult time, when receipt of the right care and support could significantly change the course of their lives. This programme seeks to promote these opportunities and encourage individuals to join the health and justice workforce.

Another element of the programme is focused on facilitating the recruitment of people with lived experience of the criminal justice system into roles within health and justice commissioned services. This involves helping to address the barriers these individuals often experience and promoting the benefits of employing them to help address some of the wider workforce issues. We are also taking steps to promote diversity to help ensure our workforce reflects the communities we serve.

What we are doing to achieve this programme of work

The programme is comprised of the following five work streams:

  1. Addressing equalities and reducing inequalities
  2. Raising the profile of health and justice careers
  3. Facilitating the recruitment of people with lived experience
  4. Commissioning to enable workforce development
  5. Programme communications and engagement activity.

Work already delivered through these five work streams includes:

Work is progressing with our partners and stakeholders to deliver a number of projects over the course of 2022/23 that will promote career progression opportunities for health and justice roles, as well as facilitate pathways to both clinical and non-clinical leadership roles in support of workforce development.  This includes the development of a career and competency framework for non-custodial health and justice services, the development of health and justice specific race-awareness training materials and refreshing regional procurement processes to include workforce development questions.

Further information

To find out more about this work and access supporting materials, you can join the inclusive workforce programme’s NHS futures platform. You will need to register to join NHS futures, if not already a member, and request membership of the inclusive workforce programme’s private online space.

You can also contact the inclusive workforce programme team by emailing