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08
Jan

The Long Term Plan skims over E&F services


It is disappointing that the much-anticipated NHS Long Term Plan once again fails to recognise the importance of estates and facilities services, and the staff who deliver them, in the future of healthcare across England. 

 

In an entire chapter dedicated to the workforce, including the development of "a comprehensive new Workforce Implementation Plan," it is difficult to find any mention of estates and facilities disciplines, yet these are critical to the positive outcome of any Long Term Plan for the NHS. It is beyond time that estates and facilities roles were recognised as core 'front of house' staff and supported in their individual and professional development, but in this Long Term Plan the opportunity to redress this balance has been missed.

 

The plan also includes a section on leadership and talent management. HEFMA began work on its own workforce development programme some years ago and is ready to move forwards with a leadership and talent management initiative focusing on the further development of the many professions it represents. This programme includes coaching, mentoring and a career route map for all estates and facilities disciplines. However, its development has stalled awaiting the wider engagement of the sector, including NHS Improvement’s own E&F Workforce Strategy, which has been held up by late returns of the data call issued last summer. 

 

There is also a concern over the alignment of estates strategies. Although this is a Long Term Plan it details many short term targets, but it takes time to adapt the way buildings are used to meet changes to service delivery. In ten years, the demand for services and use of buildings will also look very different, therefore a comprehensive estates plan is essential from the outset. It is stated that the new Integrated Care Systems (ICS), which are described as "central to the delivery of the Long Term Plan," will grow out of the current Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STP), all of which it is further stated have estates plans to support their clinical and service strategies, but HEFMA questions to what extent these strategies have been incorporated and in some cases how strong they are. 

 

Elsewhere, the Long Term Plan leaves much of the detail around improvements to and expectations from, the NHS estate vague and subject to further future announcements. The Plan pledges to improve transparency and the way the estate is managed, and to continue to reduce unwarranted variation in operational and financial performance as well as clinical practice. However, detail around long-term capital investment and reforms to the capital regime of the NHS will not be confirmed until the Chancellor's 2019 Spending Review. There appears to be a recognition that money needs injecting into the estate, which is welcome, as is the pledge to remove the short-term nature of capital decision-making and subsequent uncertainty for local health economies.

 

Other aspects of the Long Term Plan, including the requirements around Integrated Care Systems and a commitment to technology and digitising services, will be reported on separately.

 

Download The NHS Long Term Plan here.

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