There will be no additional funding for workforce expansion as part of the work to clear the NHS backlog, the health secretary has signalled.
In a Q&A session after a lengthy speech at the Royal College of Physicians earlier this month, where he set out the Government’s elective backlog plan, Sajid Javid said that the cost of meeting the workforce plan will have to come from ‘existing budgets’.
It comes as the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) told Pulse last month that NHS England would set out a workforce strategy ‘in due course’.
But Mr Javid said after his speech: ‘Obviously I don’t know the outcome of the plan yet, but whatever comes out of that plan we would work to meet from existing budgets.’
In the speech, Mr Javid said the Government’s ‘Road to Recovery’ plan would have a new focus on prevention with primary care at its ‘heart’.
In the Q&A, he explained: ‘The link [between] that plan and the other things I was talking about today is that so many of these measures will eventually go to reduce workforce pressure.
‘So if we can prevent more people from getting avoidable illnesses in the first place, then clearly there’s less pressure on the workforce. If we can digitise and use data more and more quickly, that can help the workforce to treat more people than otherwise by having those tools at their disposal, if we can use the app [in new ways].
He added: ‘So I look forward to that plan [and] it is really important to do this long-term working. But in terms of the cost of meeting that plan, that will come from existing budgets.’
It follows the Government’s announcement that patients on the NHS elective wait list will be given online support to help them get fit for surgery.
The BMA and RCGP said all hospital health professionals working in secondary care should spend ‘at least’ a year working in general practice as part of their training.
And almost 800 applicants are on the ‘reserve list’ for foundation training this year, after not being allocated a placement for FY1.