30 July 2020

The new NHS People Plan for 2020/2021 was launched on Thursday 30 July 2020 to address the workforce challenges the health service is currently facing and to ensure that plans for the full recovery of services after the peak of the pandemic have a strong focus on NHS staff.

The plan builds on the interim NHS People Plan and following the Government’s Spending Review in autumn, when there will be clarity on the investment available for education and training for the workforce, work on further plans will continue. 

Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now, the research and care charity, said:

“While it’s encouraging to see recognition of the severe pressures the NHS workforce has been under during the outbreak and clear ambitions to recruit more staff, we’re really concerned that this plan still falls short in addressing the enormity of the crisis facing the cancer workforce.

“The pandemic continues to have extremely worrying impacts for thousands of people affected by cancer, including causing a major backlog of people needing cancer treatment, monitoring scans and breast screening. As services now resume, we are incredibly concerned that the already-stretched cancer workforce could soon reach breaking point due to the pent-up demand for diagnostics, imaging and treatment.

“While it’s fantastic to see investment in recruiting and retaining more staff next year, we now need a long-term vision and plan to ensure that the breast cancer workforce also has enough resource and support beyond the coming year.

“The workforce remains the backbone of the health service and the introduction of grants to support more nurses to become cancer nurse specialists is a really promising step in the right direction. We now need to see a comprehensive strategy to recruit and train even more nurses in the future, including to support those with incurable breast cancer, to ensure that all patients have access to the care they need.

“Crucially, these plans must now be supported by sufficient funding in the Government’s upcoming spending review. We need the Government to send a strong signal of its commitment to invest in the NHS staff that people affected by cancer rely on, both now and in the future.”