RCR responds to NHS People Plan for 2020/21

Thursday 30 July 2020

NHS leaders in England have published a new people-focused wellbeing and retention strategy for the year ahead, which looks to build on the initiatives and experiences of the coronavirus pandemic.

The RCR welcomes the objectives and practical next steps of the People Plan for 2020/21, but has stressed that in order to realise the aims of the NHS England Long Term Plan, the NHS needs more imaging and cancer care staff, as well as more central funding for better equipment, infrastructure and IT.

We recognise and appreciate that more action on workforce and capital spending will be dictated by NHS funding settlements, and will engage with and inform officials ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review, due in the autumn. 

RCR President Dr Jeanette Dickson said:

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic the NHS and its workforce has yet again gone above and beyond, proving itself to be flexible, adaptable and able to rapidly implement innovative practice in a time of tremendous challenge. 

“Across imaging and cancer care staff moved quickly to adapt rotas and trainees and consultants, including interventionists, were deployed to the coronavirus front line. Imaging teams adopted remote radiology reporting solutions and cancer teams have rapidly implemented shorter radiotherapy schedules.

“The plan and accompanying People Promise are progressive, and we hope their commitments to enhance leadership, diversity and inclusivity will resonate with NHS staff.

“We are pleased this next stage of the People Plan sets out practical directions for the NHS and its providers to maintain and enhance flexible working, wellbeing interventions and training and recruitment measures to help support our tired workforce over the coming year.       

“However, radiology and cancer teams were barely keeping their heads above water before the pandemic, and we do not know when we will be able to reach previous levels of care, due to slower patient throughput and limited capacity.  

“The continuation of coronavirus-generated staff support is welcome, and we back the plan’s motivational narrative and targets for innovation and cultural change. But without enhanced national funding for care providers to update inadequate equipment and IT – and the considerable staff expansion needed to fully support the health service – we will not be able to deliver the modern care provision the public deserves.

“The new instalment of the People Plan is a welcome next step to support, and hopefully retain, staff. However, without dedicated, costed action to grow our NHS people and resources, NHS England’s stated Long Term Plan objectives to improve early cancer detection and access to imaging and cancer care will founder.”