Professor Dame Jane Dacre (UCL Medical School) is leading an independent Parliamentary review evaluating the UK Government’s commitments to improve the health and social care workforce in England.
Set up by the cross-party Health and Social Care Committee, Dame Jane has been Chair of the politically impartial Expert Panel since August 2020, with the aim of assessing government pledges in different areas of healthcare policy.
The panel gives Care Quality Commission-style ratings on the government’s performance in meeting policy commitments, grading them from "inadequate" to "outstanding". The independent and objective evaluation is designed to enhance the select committee’s core task of holding the government and ministers to account.
For the latest evaluation, four specialists in health and social care, workforce modelling, social policy, and knowledge exchange have been appointed, bringing their subject specific expertise and experience.
The specialist members are working alongside the core members of the Expert Panel to identify a set of government commitments made in health and social care workforce and evaluate the UK Government’s progress against them.
The Expert Panel is focusing on three areas: planning for the workforce - including how targets are set, recruitment, and retention; building a skilled workforce - including incorporating technology and professional development of staff; wellbeing at work - including support services for staff, and reducing bullying rates.
An open call for written submissions is underway, specifically addressing the question of the extent to which the chosen targets have been met. The government has also provided its own evidence of achievement or progress towards the targets.
Dame Jane, who is Professor of Medical Education at UCL, said: "We are looking at commitments the Government has made on workforce - the people who deliver the health and social care services we rely on.
"We’ve identified a recurrent theme in our evaluations to date - whether in maternity, cancer or mental health services, progress is dependent on having the right number of skilled staff in the right place at the right time. Shortages have a real impact on the delivery of services and undermine achievements.
"Our panel of experts is now evaluating progress made to meet policy pledges in this crucial area - whether it’s about getting workforce planning right, training, or ensuring staff well-being."
The panel will produce a report with a rating against each chosen target, using the scale used by the Care Quality Commission - Outstanding/Good/Requires Improvement/Inadequate. It will also make an overall rating of the government’s progress towards its commitments in the chosen policy area.
The findings will support the work of the Health and Social Care Committee which is carrying out a separate inquiry: Workforce: recruitment, training and retention in health and social care
The Expert Panel’s first report , published in July 2021, evaluated Government progress against its policy commitments in the area of maternity services in England.
In December 2021, the second report was published, an Evaluation of the Government’s progress against its policy commitments in the area of mental health services in England. Both the reports concluded the UK Government’s overall progress in meeting its commitments ’requires improvement’.
The panel’s third report , published in March 2022, ’Evaluation of the Government’s commitments in the area of cancer services in England’, concluded the government’s overall progress was ’inadequate’ .
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