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Workforce Update February 2022

Welcome to this month’s UK Workforce Policy Update

Through these regular updates we will share with you some of the key developments in different areas of health and care policy, all through publicly available resources.

February Updates

The government has responded to the Health and Social Care Select Committee published report on ‘workforce burnout and resilience in the NHS and Social Care’. The committee was set up in 2021 to make an inquiry into workforce burnout and resilience following the increasing workforce pressure by the covid 19 pandemic on the already stretched workforce.

There were reports of burnout in the NHS and social care services even before the covid -19 pandemic which has only compounded the existing staff burnout. The NHS and social care services together employ about 8.6% of the adult working population.

In their response, the government acknowledged the existing pressures on the workforce and the challenges it continues to face during the pandemic. It highlighted interventions put in place and plans set out to mitigate these challenges. This includes an announcement of at least £500m of investment for the workforce in its published People at the Heart of Care: Adult Social Care Reform

Pension Changes

The suspension of the NHS pension scheme allowing retired staff return to work without impact on their pension is set to expire on 24 March 2022. As part of the measures to boost the available NHS workforce,the government through the Coronavirus Act 2020 suspended rules in the NHS pension scheme allowing retired and partially retired workers to return to work without suspension of their benefit.

Many trade unions have called for the extension of the deadline. It is estimated that 7,000 doctors and nurses may be affected and could choose to retire, further deepening staff shortages. The Department of Health and Social Care is listening to concerns from the NHS and labour unions on possible extension of the deadline.

Meanwhile, the Scottish government has extended the temporary suspension of NHS pension scheme abatement rules until 31 October 2022 for NHS staff in Scotland. The move has been welcomed by the Royal College of Nurses Scotland in a statement by the organisation’s Interim Director.

Post Covid Recovery

The NHS post-covid pandemic is faced with an unprecedented backlog of elective procedures and long outpatient appointment waiting times. In all four UK nations, the NHS are under renewed pressure to restore service to pre-covid levels.

Efforts to address the impact of the pandemic on patients waiting times and the backlog of elective procedures could be hampered by the burnout amongst the workforce and widespread staff shortages.

Meanwhile, in England, under the “Living with Covid-19” guidance, updated in February, there is no longer a legal requirement for people with Covid-19 infection to self-isolate, reducing staff shortages due to sick leave. Meanwhile the Secretary of State for Health and social care has said, recruitment, retention and staff training will be put at the heart of the NHS under new reforms.

Produced by Daniel Darko and Heather McAdam



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