Representing estates and facilities professionals operating within the  



Hancock and Harding set out ambition for more inclusive NHS workforce

Speaking at the Royal College of Physicians' annual conference, Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Chair of NHS Improvement, Baroness Dido Harding have focused on workforce development within the NHS. 


The Minister set out his three areas to prioritise as - more support and mentoring to get more women into senior leadership roles, more flexible working and putting an end to discrimination whilst creating a compassionate culture.


More than 77% of the 1.3 million employees of the NHS are women, however, in senior clinical roles they are under-represented and the gender pay gap sits at a hefty 23%. 


Among the examples of roles discussed, there is no mention of staff working in Estates and Facilities from either Matt Hancock or Baroness Harding. HEFMA supports the recruitment of more women into the profession and into senior roles*. 


Lack of flexibility has been cited as one of the top three reasons (after low pay) for workers in all sectors leaving a job. Commenting on the need for more flexible working, Matt Hancock stated: “I want to see digital rotas for all clinical staff in the NHS. Currently they’re available to only half, and less than one in 10 have access to the most sophisticated digital rotas that should be the norm across the NHS. That simply isn’t good enough.


“All Trusts must expand digital rotas and develop tech-enabled in-house staff banks. Better tech, across the board in the NHS, can help support more flexible, more modern working and allow for a better work-life balance.”


Matt Hancock also pledged to put an end to discrimination, bullying and harassment, saying the People Plan being developed by Baroness Harding, will have this at its heart and Prerana Issar, the new Chief People Officer, will make this her mission.


Baroness Harding told delegates that building an inclusive culture in the NHS is important to drive improvement which leads to a better outcome for patients and that people perform better when they are able to be themselves. 


Responding to these workforce speeches the Chief Executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson welcomes the recognition of the severity of the challenges facing Trusts, but says these are problems that have developed over many years and for which there is no quick solution. He calls for unity in tackling this issue and for progress before the Spending Review.


“We agree that solving these challenges isn’t just about future workforce planning and more money, important though these are. We welcome the emphasis on making the NHS a great place to work by supporting staff wellbeing and promoting flexibility and equality, as set out by the health secretary today. It’s also vital that we address the challenges in changing leadership culture and training a workforce equipped for the future. Trust leaders have a key role to play in each of these areas. You can’t solve a problem until you have the right strategy.


“All of the NHS together must get behind a single, clear, approach and develop a unity of purpose which has been sadly lacking for far too long. We welcome the ongoing process to develop the new NHS workforce plan as it’s been much more inclusive and moved at a much faster pace than what’s gone before. It really has felt different. You can’t solve a problem in a system as complex as the NHS until everyone agrees to align behind a single plan and then everyone moves at pace to implement it.

“But we must also be realistic. There will be no single, quick, magic, fix. We all want to see more money, more staff and solutions to long running problems like pensions and immigration rules as quickly as possible. But given the timing of the spending review and the government’s focus on Brexit this was never going to be possible. We should welcome the collaborative work and progress that has been made to develop the forthcoming interim plan, rather than bemoan what it cannot contain at this stage.

“But these issues must be addressed in time for the final plan. That includes the right outcome for NHS education and training budgets in the forthcoming spending review.”



* Interestingly, in the 2019 Annual Awards, the three shortlisted finalists for the Leader of the Year award are all female: 

Michele Mcgee, Interim Associate Director of Estates and Facilities at Merseycare NHS Foundation Trust

Sandra Roberts, Divisional Manager Estates and Facilities at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton

Maxine Heath, Head of Facilities Services at Worcestershire Health & Care NHS Trust.