NHS England has released the first ever Long Term Workforce Plan, with a clear focus on utilising digital and data to ensure the workforce is prepared to deliver care in the future.

The Workforce Plan states the NHS workforce will need to take full advantage of digital and technological innovations, as set out in the Topol Review (2019), in order to keep up with the demands of a rapidly evolving society.

It is expected that Artificial Intelligence (AI), alongside other technological advancements and initiatives, will be instrumental in freeing up staff time and improving the efficiency of services. AI has the potential to improve accuracy and efficiency in diagnostic services and administrative processes. However, the safe, effective and ethical adoption of these innovations is integral to successfully delivering the ambitions of the Workforce Plan.

The Plan recognises the importance of both understanding and developing healthcare workers' confidence in AI and references the content of 2 reports by the NHS AI Lab and former Health Education England in setting out the core foundations in achieving this. The first report, understanding healthcare workers confidence in AI, focusses on the need to establish trustworthiness through governance and robust implementation of AI technologies, whilst the second report, developing healthcare workers confidence in AI, outlines the need for AI-related education and training. To achieve this, NHS, working with government, will convene an expert group to work through in more detail where AI can best be used, and what the next steps will look like.

NHS England are clear that continued, sustained investment in digital technologies and ongoing work to understand the impact these technologies are having on staff and workforce planning is needed to ensure successful adoption of these innovations. In addition, the Plan highlights the need for the upskilling and training of staff to maximise the opportunities provided by technology.

As the Digital Academy for Health and Care, we have an established set of learning offers available to the health and care workforce who are ready to lead and implement digital transformation projects and initiatives. The Plan's focus on utilising digital, data and technology to support the workforce and improve patient care outlines the need for us to provide the NHS with a home for digital talent.

Read the full NHS Long Term Workforce Plan. 

Page last reviewed: 4 July 2023
Next review due: 4 July 2024