Debra Teasdale, Dean of the Faculty of Health and Wellbeing at Canterbury Christ Church University, comments on the NHS recruitment ‘crisis’ and urges that workforce transformation is needed.

Today, Ian Cummings admitted that the NHS staffing crisis will continue for another 4 years. I have to admit I feel a little sorry for him, as his role right now is as the front man whilst the problems are part of history… there is too much ‘blame’ and not enough focus on the benefits, or meaningful solutions.

Clearly overseas nurses and agency nurses have to be part of a short term solution. Such professionals actually make a positive contribution to frontline care and also make the lives of nurses on the frontline more manageable. There is no doubt that they are costly.

The rhetoric today focuses on vacancies, but we need transformation, so whilst some of these vacancies need to be filled, if everything is replaced ‘like for like’ then nothing will move and the budget will spiral further. The drive towards transformation can be a difficult one, as professional boundaries need to be redefined and challenged. But this can be achieved if we need to work in partnership to achieve this during the turbulent times ahead.

Many aspects of care can be delivered effectively by appropriately educated Associate Practitioners, individuals who have worked in specific healthcare environments, who are enabled to develop their skills and knowledge through work-based Foundation Degrees. At Canterbury Christ Church University we have worked in partnership with our NHS provider to support this, and we are already working on our next iteration, so yet again, universities are leading solutions.