The NHS of 2030 will be fundamentally different from the service we work in today – as set out in the NHS Long Term Plan. The world of work is changing at a pace never imagined, with growing evidence of links between staff wellbeing, care quality and retention. This is evolving alongside digital technologies, automating tasks, remote working and new advances based on artificial intelligence. Meanwhile, existing ways of working, models of care and organisational boundaries are being transformed, as the NHS adapts to the changing needs and expectations of our population.

If the NHS is to meet the challenges ahead, the people profession, which comprises human resources and organisational development practitioners, has a key role to play in shaping the future. This includes steering organisations towards the vision set out within the People Plan: more people, working differently, in a compassionate and inclusive culture.

The government recently announced that additional funding will be invested in the NHS over the next three years, funded by a new health and social care levy and a rise in dividend tax. The people profession – working alongside other decision-makers in the NHS – will have a key role in optimising available resources and maximising the value of taxpayer investment, to support recovery of routine services, to tackle waiting lists, and to deliver the care that NHS patients need.

This report sets out a vision for how the people profession will develop and work differently over the coming decade. It draws on the diversity of voices from across the profession and beyond. It also sets out a roadmap for action.

A position of strength

The profession is starting from a position of strength. Especially in the past year, the value of NHS people professionals, and their skills, have shone through. The current approach is effective for today’s ways of working. But the NHS of 2030 will need something new. This will mean changing the way people professionals and managers, throughout the service support our people.

Meeting the challenges and opportunities of work and healthcare in 2030 will involve working beyond existing organisational boundaries, overcoming barriers and transforming roles. This will mean spreading innovative practice and ensuring widespread adoption, to create a consistently compassionate, inclusive, values-driven culture. This will be fundamental to the NHS that we all want to see, and be part of, in 2030. The people profession must be at the forefront of this change, leading and supporting this transition. To do this, the profession itself needs far-reaching transformation too.

This transformation involves building on what the profession does best today, through managing and developing people, while building new systems and processes to deliver desired health outcomes – all the while, ensuring our people feel valued and supported. Meeting these future challenges places an increasing importance on the people profession to help leaders move forward, ensuring the very best health outcomes for all.

What is the people profession?

This report uses the term the people profession to refer to people at every level across the NHS, including human resources (HR), organisational development (OD) and workforce departments, who alongside managers and trade unions contribute to and improve our NHS people’s working experiences.

The vision refers to the people who work in the profession as people professionals and refers to the services that they deliver as people services.

The report also uses the term customers to refer to all our people who interact with, and benefit from, people services – whether directly or indirectly. This includes leaders, line managers and people more broadly who are supported by people professionals.

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