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30 Jun 2023

SANE comments on the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan

Details of the first ever NHS Long Term Workforce Plan have been released today.

The plan, published by the NHS and backed by the Government, sets out how the NHS will address existing vacancies. It also outlines how the service will meet the challenges of a growing and ageing population by recruiting and retaining hundreds of thousands more staff over 15 years and working in new ways.

‘Surging demand’

Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of SANE, said: “One of the greatest challenges facing the NHS is ensuring it has a skilled workforce. It is heartening to see the plan set out long-term projections and a commitment to tackle staffing shortfalls.

“Despite several previous pledges, the number of mental health nurses is virtually unchanged in over a decade and there has been only a small increase in consultant psychiatrists working in the NHS in England, despite surging demand for services.

“We hear every day of people who have not been able to see a psychiatrist, let alone a skilled and experienced mental health nurse, and are having to wait months for assessment, treatment or counselling.

“We hope that this time the promises of recruitment, training and retention will materialise, so that people in need of psychiatric help do not have to be put into overcrowded and understaffed wards, or left waiting for overburdened community teams who, we are told, may not be able to respond.”


The NHS plan aims to reduce reliance on expensive agency spend that could cut the bill for taxpayers by around £10 billion between 2030/31 and 2036/37. Since its foundation the NHS has relied on the skills and dedication of staff who have come here from around the world and there will always be a place for them.

However, with demand for healthcare staff rising around the world the Long Term Workforce Plan sets out the path to:

  • Double medical school training places to 15,000 by 2031, with more places in areas with the greatest shortages
  • Increase the number of GP training places by 50% to 6,000 by 2031
  • Almost double the number of adult nurse training places by 2031, with 24,000 more nurse and midwife training places a year by 2031.

Further reading:

Record recruitment and reform to boost patient care under first NHS Long Term Workforce Plan

NHS Long Term Workforce Plan

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