Mark England, Chief Executive of HN, said:
“We welcome the publication of the long-awaited NHS workforce plan. It is positive to see a partially funded outlook on the workforce of the future, plans around retaining and reforming careers and proposals around how staff can utilise and operate new technology.
It is right that advanced technology and AI is at the forefront of this workforce plan and we welcome the intention to create an expert group to identify advanced technologies for the NHS. Productivity can be enhanced by entirely new models of care, and our workforce model needs to accommodate this innovation.
Some of this potential is already here and doesn’t need to be seen as ‘medium to long term’. AI can today support predictive health analytics, patient triage and prevention, and ‘HN Predict’ is already in use with great effect across the UK and Ireland. HN’s model – built by clinicians and undergone robust national trials to improve the allocation of preventative care resources, reducing costs and delivering better patient outcomes – is an important example.
One part of the workforce that is immediately available, greatly under-used, highly motivated and takes weeks to coach and train, is the patients themselves. More focus on supported self-management for the right patients at the right time, best found via machine-learning, has to be at the heart of system plans. If more ICSs deployed machine-learning driven case-finding it would allow them to make predictions about which people are more likely to need care and intervene early. This would support the delivery of preventative, anticipatory and personalised care.
While publishing the workforce plan is a significant step, making it work in practice will depend on action and investment from government. By failing to embrace a more proactive approach within the NHS, we risk replicating the grave consequences of inaction on climate change where today's challenges will only amplify the challenges we will face tomorrow."