If Rishi Sunak can’t stop the boats, maybe he can sort out the NHS. Sunak has called the release of the long-awaited NHS workforce plan today “one of the most significant commitments” he will make as the UK’s prime minister. By 2031, he says, there will be twice as many medical school places as today (including a 50 per cent increase in GP training places); 24,000 more training spaces for nurses and midwives; and £2.4 billion of extra NHS spending over the next five years to pay for it. Alongside retention schemes and other workforce-boosting measures, the government claims this means there will be 300,000 more doctors and health professionals by 2036/37. On paper, the plan looks informed and unusually far-sighted – even if it comes six years late, as critics claim. A notable but unsurprising omission is any mention of pay; Sunak has hinted he will block public sector pay rises to curb inflation. This week, senior doctors voted to strike over pay, and NHS staff sickness was at a record high.
Further reading: Sam Freedman and Rachel Woolf for the Institute for Government on why training more doctors and nurses isn’t enough on its own.
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