NHS Long Term Workforce Plan (letter)

Classification: Official
Publication reference: PR00104_ii


  • All integrated care board and NHS trust:
    • chairs
    • chief executives
    • chief operating officers
    • medical directors
    • clinical directors
    • chief nurses
    • chief financial officers/directors of finance
    • chief people officers/directors of HR
    • chief pharmacists
    • heads of primary care
    • heads of commissioning
    • chief information officers/digital directors
    • directors of medical education
  • All general practices
  • Primary care networks: clinical directors
  • Community pharmacy contractors
  • All organisations involved in providing primary care services
  • Training hubs and primary care network leads
  • All Higher Education Institutions:
    • vice chancellors
    • health deans / heads of medical schools / health programme leads


  • NHS England regional:
    • directors
    • chief nurses
    • medical directors
    • directors of primary care and community services
    • directors of commissioning
    • workforce leads
    • postgraduate deans
    • heads of school ‒ workforce, training and education regional directors / regional heads of nursing

Dear colleagues,

NHS Long Term Workforce Plan

Today we have published the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan – developed by the NHS, in collaboration with staff groups and wider experts, with the support of the government.

This is the first time that the NHS has produced a comprehensive long term workforce plan, and it represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to put staffing on a sustainable footing for the future. This is our collective workforce plan for the NHS and sets out a clear direction for the long term. The certainty of confirmed funding up to 2028 allows us to take the actions locally, regionally, and nationally to address the gaps we have in the current workforce and meet the challenge of a growing and ageing population.

These actions fall into three priority areas:

  • Train: significantly increasing education and training to record levels, as well as increasing apprenticeships and alternative routes into professional roles, to deliver more doctors and dentists, more nurses and midwives, and more of other professional groups, including new roles designed to better meet the changing needs of patients and support the ongoing transformation of care.
  • Retain: ensuring that we keep more of the staff we have within the health service by better supporting people throughout their careers, boosting the flexibilities we offer our staff to work in ways that suit them and work for patients, and continuing to improve the culture and leadership across NHS organisations.
  • Reform: improving productivity by working and training in different ways, building broader teams with flexible skills, changing education and training to deliver more staff in roles and services where they are needed most, and ensuring staff have the right skills to take advantage of new technology that frees up clinicians’ time to care, increases flexibility in deployment, and provides the care patients need more effectively and efficiently.

The NHS can do nothing without its staff. The last few years in particular have shown their extraordinary skill and dedication: caring for over a million patients with covid while delivering the biggest vaccination programme in our history and dealing with the busiest winter on record as well as recovering services for patients.

We have heard time and again from you and your colleagues across the NHS about the importance of having a comprehensive, long term Workforce Plan so that we have the staff we need to deliver the best possible care for our patients.

This planned increase in training places is part of the solution, but it is not just about increasing numbers, its about working differently to maximise the benefit of new technology, therapies and treatment and its also about retaining the staff we have.

Retention and everything that contributes to it – environment and culture, flexibility and work/life balance, development, and career progression – must remain a core part of how we grow our workforce. This plan, therefore, builds on the valuable work in both the NHS People Plan and the NHS People Promise.

In the coming weeks and months, we will work with you and your teams to co-design the delivery of system-level NHS Long Term Workforce Plan actions.

This is the first step in a new iterative approach to NHS workforce planning, as we regularly review the underpinning model to inform operational planning and publish further updates at least every two years. These updates will reflect the progress that has been made in delivering the actions and will take account of the changing needs of the people we serve, as well as changes to the way services and care may be offered in future.

Thank you to you and your teams for your continued extraordinary efforts on behalf of our patients, population and staff. There is no denying that the past few years have been the most challenging in our 75 year history for everyone working in the NHS.

As we now embark on the important job of delivering on the ambitions set out in this Plan, it will continue to take all of us to achieve success – an ambitious, sustainable and resilient NHS, there for patients now and for future generations.

Yours sincerely,
Amanda Pritchard, NHS Chief Executive
Navina Evans, Chief Workforce Officer, NHS England