Liberating the NHS: Developing the Healthcare Workforce

Closed 31 Mar 2011

Opened 20 Dec 2010


The vision set out in the white paper Equity and excellence: Liberating the NHS can only be achieved if healthcare providers employ staff with the skill mix appropriate to deliver a high quality service to patients in every circumstance. That blend of skills will change repeatedly to satisfy the evolving healthcare needs of local communities.

Public investment is central to securing high quality services and training. However, we cannot continue to expect top-down workforce planning to respond to the bottom-up changes in patterns of service that will be required by GP consortia. In future the Department of Health will have progressively less direct involvement in planning and development of the healthcare workforce, except for the public health services.

It is time to give employers greater responsibility for planning and developing the healthcare workforce. Local networks of employers will take on many of the workforce functions currently discharged by Strategic Health Authorities. However, the quality of education and training will remain under the stewardship of the healthcare professions, working in partnership with universities, colleges and other education and training providers.

This consultation sets out proposals to establish a new framework for developing the healthcare workforce and seeks views on the systems and processes that will be needed to support it.

You can respond to the consultation by emailing or posting it to:
Consultation Responses
Workforce Education Policy Team
Department of Health
Room 2N12, Quarry House
Leeds LS2 7UE

The final date for responses is 31 March 2011, but earlier expressions of views would be helpful.

Why We Are Consulting

Our aim is to make sustainable changes that will support the reforms set out in the White Paper and make the NHS more responsive to patients’ changing needs while being more resilient to future funding pressures.   It is time to give employers greater autonomy for planning and developing the healthcare workforce, alongside greater professional ownership of education and training quality standards and content.  This consultation therefore seeks views on the framework for planning and developing the healthcare workforceand commissioning multi-professional education.  A new framework that will be driven by diverse patient needs, based on healthcare provider decisions and underpinned by strong clinical leadership.

The consultation process

Criteria for consultation

The consultation follows the Government Code of Practice on consultation. In particular we aim to:

  • formally consult at a stage where there is scope to influence the policy outcome;
  • consult for at least 12 weeks and consider longer timescales where feasible and sensible;
  • be clear about the consultation's process in the consultation documents, what is being proposed, the scope to influence, and the expected costs and benefits of the proposals;
  • ensure that the consultation exercise is designed to be accessible to, and clearly targeted at, those people it is intended to reach;
  • keep the burden of consultation to a minimum to ensure consultations are effective and to obtain consultees’ buy in to the process;
  • Analyse the responses carefully and give clear feedback to participants following the consultation
  • ensure officials running consultations are guided in how to run an effective consultation exercise and share what they learn from the experience.

The full text of the code of practices is on the Better Regulation website.   

How to comment on the consultation process

If you would like to make any comments about the consultation process we have followed, please contact the Consultations Co-ordinator, Department of Health, 3E58 Quarry House, LEEDS, LS2 7UE. Email:  Please do not send answers to the consultation questions to this address or mailbox.

Confidentiality of information

We manage the information you provide in accordance with the Department of Health’s Information Charter.

Information we receive, including personal information, may also be published or disclosed in accordance with the access to information regimes (primarily the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004).

If you want the information you provide to be treated as confidential, please be aware that, under the FOIA, there is a statutory code of practice with which public authorities must comply and which deals, among other things, with obligations of confidence. In view of this, it would be helpful if you could explain to us why you regard the information you have provided as confidential.  If we receive a request for disclosure of the information, we will take full account of your explanation, but we cannot give an assurance that confidentiality can be maintained in all circumstances.  An automatic confidentiality disclaimer generated by your IT system will not, of itself, be regarded as binding on the Department of Health.

The Department of Health will process your personal data in accordance with with DPA and in most circumstances this will mean that your personal data will not be disclosed to third parties.

What Happens Next

A summary of the response to this consultation will be made available before or alongside any further action, such as laying legislation before Parliament, and will be placed on the Department of Health consultations website at:


  • GPs
  • Nurses
  • Health visitors
  • Clinicians
  • Managers
  • Commissioners
  • Directors of Public Health
  • Pharmacists
  • Doctors
  • Midwives
  • Healthcare scientists
  • Paramedics
  • Dentists
  • Art therapists
  • Dramatherapists
  • Music therapists
  • Chiropodists/ podiatrists
  • Dieticians
  • Occupational therapists
  • Orthotists
  • Orthopists
  • Prosthetists
  • Physiotherapists
  • Diagnostic radiographers
  • Therapeutic radiographers
  • Speech and language therapists
  • Foundation Trusts
  • Regulatory body
  • Academic/ Professional institution
  • Employer representatives
  • Employee representatives
  • Trade union
  • Deaneries
  • Higher Education institutions
  • Local authority
  • Social care provider
  • Directors of Adult Social Care Services
  • Members of the public
  • Patients
  • Service users


  • Education
  • Continuing Professional Development
  • Training