E-mail shows NHSE backtracking on dedicated digital workforce plan

An internal email thread of discussion among NHSE and Health Education England directors, seen by HSJ, referred a decision “taken by a senior panel as part of a move to strip out commitments to future plans, policies” from the document.

The reference was in response to discussion about the removal of a commitment to a future, separate workforce plan for digital and technology, for which work was already underway.

During the discussion, which took place in March, when much of the detail of the workforce plan was being developed, an official informed colleagues that “references to the digital workforce plan have mostly gone during the editing process, but there are references to the need for both upskilling and new roles in digital in a couple of places”, according to the e-mail seen by HSJ.

Other officials in the e-mail exchange reportedly cast doubt on the decision to backtrack on the commitment, noting the high level of government interest in digital transformation. At least one correspondent in the e-mail train called for the commitment to be revived, HSJ said.

A plan to reform service delivery

NHS England’s long-awaited long-term workforce plan was published in June and laid out how the service planned to train and retain staff over the next 15 years. It also pledged to reform the way service are delivered, “including by harnessing digital and technological innovations”.

In a section titled ‘Upskilling the Workforce’, the plan made clear the need to “upskill our workforce to maximise the opportunities from technological and digital innovations” and mentions the establishment of the NHS Digital Academy as the home for digital learning and development.

A digital skills assessment tool which addresses digital literacy needs across the workforce will be rolled out by the end of 2023/24, the document confirmed. It said the Digital Learning Solutions platform would provide health and social care organisations with access to online digital skills training content created both centrally and locally.

An NHS England spokesperson said: “NHS England’s Long Term Workforce Plan references supporting staff to build digital skills, with further detail on the roll out to be shared as part of the Digital Workforce Plan set to be published later this year.”

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This post originally appeared on TechToday.

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