Our NHS relies on effective workforce planning to ensure we can meet the health and care needs of local communities and I applaud the dedication of healthcare professionals across a range of professions.
Clause 35 of the Health and Care Act would require the publication of a workforce report at least every five years - covering the whole of the NHS including primary, secondary and community care.
This report will increase transparency and accountability in the workforce planning process. For example, the report would set out the role and responsibilities of new Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) about how they would ensure the delivery of effective local workforce planning.
I recognise that people would like to go further, and the level of support that an amendment made to the legislation during passage through the House of Lords received from Peers, patient groups and professional bodies.
However, I disagreed with this amendment because I believe it was not necessary to add further or different reporting duties on workforce planning.
As my colleague Ed Argar - the Minister for Health - stated, we cannot predict all future workforce needs, which is why the report is required to be published at a minimum of every five years.
This flexibility will allow an updated report to be provided earlier than the statutory required period to reflect any changes to roles and responsibilities.
It should be kept in mind that in addition to Government measures in the legislation, Health Education England has been asked to review long-term strategic trends for the health and social care workforce, and NHS England has been asked to develop a workforce strategy (including long-term projections) which will be published in due course.
It is vital that workforce planning is closely integrated to the wider planning across health and social care. Two key NHS bodies will be merged to help put long-term planning and strategy for healthcare staff recruitment and retention at the forefront of the national NHS agenda.
The Government is delivering against its key pledges to increase the numbers of GPs and nurses - there are 1,200 more GPs and 27,000 more nurses compared to 2019. In addition the number of medical school places has increased by 25 per cent since 2016/17.
I believe that the measures in the Health and Care Act will help to clarify who is responsible for workforce planning and ensure NHS can provide the workforce needed to meet the health and care needs of the population.