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Letter to the Prime Minister on the Health and Care Bill

29 March 2022

Dear Prime Minister,

I am writing to you regarding the Health and Care Bill and the Government’s tabling of a motion to disagree with Amendment 29 tomorrow. 

The widespread workforce shortage across the health and care sector is at a critical juncture and urgent action is needed to make sure that staff and patients are protected. 

The Royal College of Nursing, in coalition with over 100 health and care organisations, sent you a letter yesterday calling for the Government to support Lords Amendment 29 (to Clause 35). Our members support this amendment, which requires the Secretary of State to carry out and publish an assessment of workforce requirements in health and social care, looking five, ten and twenty years into the future. We urge you and your Government to reconsider and accept this amendment in the Commons tomorrow. 

The provisions for workforce assessment is a fundamental part of what the RCN believes will bring about staffing for safe and effective care. Knowing the size and skill requirements of the health and care workforce, is vital and a key part of the solution. However, long term projections must lead to concrete action – as a basis for strategic workforce planning for this Government to ensure it can support the health needs of the future population.

Whilst Amendment 29 outlines how workforce demands must be modelled and published, we are without assurance that this will be alongside a strategy which sets out how workforce demands will be met, and where the accountability for that demand will lie – which must be with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. 

Our members have, of course, noted the recent commitment from the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care in commissioning a long-term workforce plan. However, this kind of action cannot be reliant on political will and the requirement for clear accountability living with the Secretary of State for provision and delivery of a funded plan must be codified in law. This approach would be sustainable, and truly focused on future-proofing the capability of the health and care service.  

Our members deserve assurance that this situation will be resolved. The RCN are clear that without both accountability in law for workforce assessment, and planning, the Health and Care Bill will not be sufficient to address and resolve the severe nurse staffing shortages which is posing a severe threat to patient safety and to staff retention. 

I ask that we meet, at long last, to discuss this and indeed other issues facing our population that nursing is key to.

I look forward to your response. 

Yours Sincerely, 

Pat Cullen, General Secretary & Chief Executive 


Page last updated - 29/03/2022