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The future of the NHS depends on having the right staff who feel valued and proud to work in the health service

Staff are the most significant element of NHS expenditure and its most important asset in providing care for NHS patients, so taking better care of the workforce needs to be top priority, says a new report published as part of the BMJ Commission on the future of the NHS. The report identifies three key areas where action is needed: enough staff in the right roles in the right places; improving working conditions and environments, including workplace behaviours; and enhancing career and professional development.

Offering an analysis of current issues and focused recommendations, this report sets out a bold vision for making workforce stewardship a top priority and a key responsibility at all levels.

“The future of the NHS depends on the people who work in it,” write the authors, led by Mary Dixon-Woods, Director of THIS Institute. “But at the moment the NHS simply does not have enough staff to deliver on its goals and commitments: it remains under-doctored, under-nursed, and under-managed in comparison with other countries. Staff are routinely exposed to very challenging workplace conditions, yet organisations demonstrate significant weaknesses in addressing the problems – ranging from adequate toilet facilities and water access through to bullying and harassment.

“Quite apart from the ethical imperative to look after the NHS workforce, there are strong arguments that doing so will improve efficiency, productivity, and patient experience and outcomes,” they explain.

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