Should doctors specialise?

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Medical workforce undergoing change

Health Education England are planning to transform the NHS workforce within the next two years, with some specialist training being scrapped.

Jo Lenaghan, director of strategy and planning at the HEE has revealed to the HSJ that the £5 billion budget would be adjusted to create new jobs that used “less rigid specialist pathways” and that they would also be looking to invest more in non-medical roles, and re-skilling existing employees.

Ms Lenaghan has emphasised that workers in the NHS need to be more flexible, with less structured specialty formats, highlighting examples such as women’s surgeons, physician associates, prescribing pharmacists and orthopaedic surgeons.

Working for the future

Ms Lenaghan explained “It takes over a decade to train a senior medical or nursing member of staff, so every time we make an investment we are locking in a pattern of service delivery. The workforce plans are based on what employers tell us they need. If we carry on buying the current model of care, it simply won’t be fit for purpose in the future.”

Plans include the HEE teaming up with the royal colleges to create new roles. “It’s not that specialism is bad,” Ms Lenagham continues. “But the way we currently train people forces them to specialise too early and too rigidly to support them in a career up to 2060.”

As well as analysing different ways to train medical staff, the HEE is also taking a new approach to non-medical professionals, and boosting continuing professional development by working in partnership with employers that have the primary responsibility of training the current workers.