ARI 3: shaping and supporting the health and social care workforce of the future

Research objective: Research to optimise a public health, NHS, social care and wider health workforce that is effectively structured, trained, deployed and supported to deliver future effective and efficient models of healthcare which meet the needs of the UK’s ageing population.

Priority research topics: Developing future models of healthcare which effectively and efficiently meet the changing needs of the UK population. Developing, evaluating and understanding how to implement interventions to enable a diverse health and care workforce to deliver world-class care while addressing the current recruitment, retention and wellbeing issues such as:
- understanding the barriers to recruiting and retaining staff in the NHS and social care and identifying solutions including supporting wellbeing
- identifying how to structure the workforce to meet future health needs and how to drive cultural and behavioural change within organisations
- developing and evaluating interventions to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of staff (for example, skills-mix, task-shifting and service integration)
- developing and evaluating technology-assisted workforce solutions to reduce burden on staff while maintaining patient outcomes (for example, diagnoses assisted by artificial intelligence, robotics to support surgery and care, remote monitoring of patients including hospital at home and virtual wards)


4.3% of the UK population is expected to be aged 85 or over by 2045. As healthy life expectancy has not increased at the same rate, more years are now being spent in poor health, driving demand for health and social care services.

The health and social care workforce are struggling to meet this increased demand. For example, the overall vacancy rate in adult social care was 10.7% in 2021 to 2022, while NHS vacancy rates were 11.9% in September 2021 compared to the labour market average of 4.2%. Staff turnover in adult social care was 29% in 2021 to 2022 with fewer people joining the workforce each year. The Health Foundation recently identified an overall workforce supply-demand gap of around 103,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) posts across the NHS and general practice in 2021 to 2022 (around 7% of estimated FTE workforce demand) and a 1 in 4 shortfall in GP and general practice nurse posts by 2030 to 2031.

Research into new and more efficient models of care with a focus on prevention, combined with understanding how the health and social care workforce can be trained and supported to deliver them, are required to deliver high quality care more efficiently.

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This question was published as part of the set of ARIs in this document:

DHS Cs areas of research interest GOV UK


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