Recovery bulletin – Issue 02 – August 2022


Dr Chris Cutts

Dr Chris Cutts

Professor Chris Cutts, Regional Director, Health Education England north west, and Regional Chief People Officer / Director of Workforce and OD (interim), NHS England North West

Welcome to the second edition of the North West regional recovery bulletin. I hope you find the information in here interesting and useful, and that it gives you a flavour of the scale of activity that’s happening across the region, as we all work to recover services from the Covid-19 pandemic.

NHS staff across the region are working extremely hard to deliver the most ambitious catch-up programme in health service history, applying the same determination displayed throughout the Covid-19 pandemic to address backlogs in routine care and reduce long waits. Supporting elective recovery is something that is crucial to create an NHS that is fit for purpose and able to meet the demands of the future. This is a priority for me and my teams in both my roles at NHS England and HEE (the body responsible for long-term workforce planning, education and training), and the way we are doing this is through a workforce plan that aims to increase workforce capacity and ensures the safety and wellbeing of NHS staff. This is especially the case in light of COVID which hasn’t gone away and colleagues are still dealing with the recent surge along with the backlog of appointments and elective care.

The health and wellbeing of our people and teams is essential and we are seeing a flurry of activity on this. This includes simple things like improving environments for colleagues to rest and recover by designing rest areas and showers and making healthy and affordable refreshments available. Work is underway so that the design of wellbeing in our work spaces is seen as an integral part of the process when designing future NHS places of work.

On the issue of medical recovery, the newly formed Integrated Care Boards have an important role, and there is a raft of work taking place with them to strengthen career pathways, increase supply for theatre staffing, develop the workforce model, plan Community Diagnostic Centres, virtual wards and surgical hubs, share best practice and address the root causes of non-COVID related sickness absences.

We are also working closely with HEE heads of schools to ensure targeted support to rectify curriculum deficits caused by altered caseloads. Our Directors of Medical Education are being supported to influence rota design to support educational experience and simulation is being used to fill gaps in curriculum coverage.

Turning to wider education recovery, HEE funding to trusts at the end of last year has so far supported additional training and education for over 1,500 staff in the region. This includes nurses, allied health professions (AHP), physician associates and health care scientists, with a further 6,500 staff to benefit from this funding . Developing new roles and ways of working is crucial to support the recovery process and we have now confirmed funding for 33 new trainee anaesthesia associates across 12 NHS trusts. HEE has also invested over £2 million into AHP workforce supply projects which means that NHS trusts and Integrated Care Systems now have a better understanding of their AHP workforce. In fact, our new national AHP strategy focuses on elective recovery, including regional workstreams on operating department practitioners as well as funding to upskill staff in critical care.

When it comes to advanced practice, HEE will be supporting 23 new Advanced Critical Care Practitioners over the current year with 21 receiving additional national funding. The ability to restructure and grow the advanced critical care practitioners will increase senior decision makers within multi-disciplinary teams in critical care and outreach services.

Earlier this year, we launched two new training academies in the region: one for the endoscopy workforce and one for imaging. Both academies will address diagnostic throughput capacity, workforce shortages, new approaches to education and training, and workforce transformation models, with the overarching aims of reducing health inequality and improving outcomes across the North West.

All of this work that is being undertaken would not be possible without the support of our NHS colleagues. The challenge ahead is huge and I would like to thank you all for everything that you are doing!


See July’s recovery bulletin here