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Leading workforce thinking 2010

Supporting newly qualified staff - toolkit for employers 

The Social Partnership Forum (SPF) has developed a joint action plan that aims to maximise employment opportunities for newly qualified healthcare professionals. This has been supplemented by an online toolkit for employers.

Physio sign

In 2006/07 newly qualified healthcare professionals, in particular physiotherapists, started to experience significant problems in securing their first healthcare role. NHS Employers, the Department of Health and the NHS trade unions acted through the Social Partnership Forum (SPF) to find solutions.

The SPF has published an online toolkit looking at the partnership work during this period and shares the lessons learnt.

The toolkit includes interviews with the key players and demonstrates how partnership working can deliver solutions to real issues.

It also provides the measures that NHS organisations can take to avoid and address the problems graduates faced in securing jobs, not just in physiotherapy but across all disciplines. Find out more on the SPF website.


The SPF plan and the NHS Employers work programme, which covers the four broad areas outlined below:

  1. Maximising opportunities for newly qualified healthcare professionals
  2. Future planning
  3. Retaining staff
  4. Strategic alliances

Maximising opportunities for newly qualified healthcare professionals

The SPF plan recognises that retaining the skills of newly qualified healthcare professionals is key to securing the future workforce of the NHS. We are working with a number of key stakeholders, as well as developing existing services such as NHS Jobs, to support employers:

Working with the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists (CSP) we have produced a briefing 'maximising the role of physiotherapists in delivering occupational health services'. The briefing sets out the business case for trusts for developing fast track physiotherapy services.

We hosted a summit on the 13 May 2008 ' Matching skills to service needs - the physiotherapy contribution' . Over sixty delegates attended the event from a range of NHS and stakeholder organisations to explore the contribution that physiotherapists can make in delivering four of the national priority areas: health and well being, occupational health, trauma and orthopaedics (linked to 18 weeks) and stroke. This event builds on our framework 'Securing the AHP workforce capacity to achieve the 18 week target' published in January 2008, which offered some practical examples of the contribution that physiotherapists and other allied health professionals (AHPs) can make to service delivery.
We have put together a checklist outlining the options that employers may consider when supporting new qualifiers, as well as examples of what other trusts are doing in this area.

NHS Employers' e-recruitment service, NHS jobs has developed an electronic solution to help Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) attract and support newly qualified healthcare professionals who are looking for their first job. Candidates who are registered with this facility have access to relevant vacancy information that may not necessarily be available through NHS Jobs alone.

The NHS Careers service, run by NHS Employers, continues to develop materials to support new qualifiers looking for their first post as a healthcare professional.
A Health Learning and Skills advice line which aims to develop an in-depth understanding of the mechanisms in place to support graduate employment, as well as systematic intelligence gathering processes from employers in health and social care.

We continue to ensure that Jobcentre Plus is fully briefed on the processes to support employment of newly qualified healthcare professionals, as part of the ongoing partnership agreement between the two organisations.
NHS Employers, in partnership with staff organisations, is developing a business case to demonstrate how Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) can help achieve better health and well-being across the population and tackle health inequalities.

We are working in partnership with staff organisations, will raise the profile of the AHP workforce to service commissioners and develop the evidence base for how AHP services can support the delivery of the 18-week target and improve access to health services.

NHS Employers, in partnership with staff organisations, is exploring the potential for supporting a managed migration scheme for staff from England, to the parts of the world experiencing shortages.

Future planning

Planning for the future health and social care workforce in today's fast changing healthcare environment, requires a strategic approach to workforce planning.

This requires collaborative working between NHS, independent and social care organisations, to share planning assumptions and integrate the workforce across all sectors. This will enable employers to continue to respond to the changing needs of patients and users.

NHS Employers, in collaboration with the Department of Health, Strategic Health Authorities and the Workforce Review Team, is working alongside employers and trade unions, to build an improved and integrated approach to workforce planning and deployment.

This will identify gaps in the supply of employment opportunities and strategies, to redress the balance between training and recruitment.

Retaining staff

Many employers are revising their workforce plans to ensure they are fit for purpose and are developing the right teams and skills mix, based on evidence and predicted activity. This coupled with service and organisational reconfiguration and financial pressures, means that the NHS is seeing a reduction in the overall numbers of posts in the short term.

Local government and independent sector employers are also making changes to their workforce numbers to reflect new ways of delivering care.

NHS Employers is supporting NHS organisations through these changes, who in turn are supporting staff. Collectively, this includes developing new opportunities for working in the community and for alternative employers, and developing more flexible contracts and training programmes, which enable staff to work in a range of different healthcare settings.

NHS Employers is continuing to support local employers to retain displaced staff during reconfiguration and restructuring
NHS Jobs, NHS Employers' e-recruitment service, will continue to support employers and staff through facilities such as restricted job pools
NHS Employers will continue to brief Jobcentre Plus on issues relating to reconfiguration and restructuring in the NHS, as part of the ongoing partnership agreement between the two organisations. This will ensure Jobcentre plus can support displaced healthcare staff.

Strategic alliances

NHS Employers is forging strategic alliances nationally with many organisations to support activity locally. We are working with the following organisations:

  • Universities UK
  • Council of Deans
  • Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services
  • Jobcentre plus
  • English Community Care Homes Association
  • Local Government Employers Association
  • Independent Healthcare Advisory Services
  • Workforce Review Team

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Caroline Waterfield
0113 306 3051

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