New vision for Emergency Department workforce plan announced

12 October 2017

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine together with NHS England, NHS Improvement and Health Education England have come together for the first time to announce a new vision for Emergency Department clinical workforce planning in England.

'Securing the future workforce of Emergency Departments in England' will create the opportunity to provide a step change in ensuring that the present workforce challenges can be met in the medium term and a proper shared vision to address future demand is realised. 

Emergency Departments (EDs) are at the very heart of our National Health Service, seeing 23 million patients in the last year alone. Central to this system are the staff who work tirelessly to deliver consistently high quality care to patients and their families. 

Improving Emergency Department services and delivering quality care is a core priority in the NHS and ensuring we have properly staffed Emergency Departments is central to this. We know we need more clinical staff, both senior decision-makers at consultant level and those making up the broader clinical workforce, to address the significant pressure on our EDs. For the first time, NHS England, NHS Improvement, Health Education England and the Royal College of Emergency Medicine have come together to develop a plan to address the shortages we face and ensure we can properly plan to have safe, sustainable staffing in our Emergency Departments. 

We are committed to this agenda and will work together to ensure its successful delivery. This will include additional investment in our existing and trainee workforce through the commitments set out in this document. Together these provide a clear plan to grow the workforce, reduce attrition in medical training and ensure that we can retain trained staff for the long term. We believe that this plan sets out a comprehensive package of proposals, supported by the required focus and resource, to ensure a sustainable workforce to meet the growing demands of the future.

Dr Taj Hassan, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said: “We are delighted to be launching this vision for our Emergency Departments which sets out to tackle the clinical workforce challenges facing the service. We will increase our trainee numbers significantly, provide initiatives to expand the junior multidisciplinary workforce and share best practice on sustainability. The proposed additional resources are much needed and there are a large number of initiatives here which together will mean a comprehensive, coherent shared vision that Executive Boards in Trusts can follow. Much work now is required to ensure an excellent implementation plan and we will follow progress together closely to ensure long term success.” 

Jim Mackey, Chief Executive at NHS Improvement said: "The workforce of our emergency departments have been working incredibly hard to ensure that they continue to provide safe, high quality care to patients despite continued staffing pressures. 
"The commitment to train more emergency medics year on year and to develop the roles of advanced nurse practitioners and associate physicians further, while working to reduce the attrition rates of our current staff, provide a clear plan on how we and our partners will work together to tackle some of the staffing pressures facing emergency departments. 
"These commitments will ensure that our A&Es are appropriately and sustainably staffed, with skill mixes that match the changing needs of our society, that provide a supportive environment in which to train emergency medicine trainees and establish these departments as attractive places to build a long and fulfilling career.”

Professor Wendy Reid, Executive Director of Education and Quality & National Medical Director, said: “Health Education England (HEE) has increased the number of training posts in this high priority area over the past four years. The medical consultant workforce has grown by nearly 40 per cent in the last five years and EM will be the fastest growing specialty over the next five years.  We will continue to add hundreds more medical and professional support posts in the years to come to ensure that all those people who turn to A&E for help continue to get safe, high quality care both now and in the future. 

“As well as a number of initiatives to boost the future workforce, we will ensure that current staff receive additional help and support so that we can also keep more of the staff we are training. HEE looks forward to working closely with the RCEM, NHSI and NHSE to ensure support for these initiatives.”

More information about the Securing the future workforce programme can be found at