NHS England: Rural and Coastal Workforce Transformation Programme

The Rural and Coastal Workforce Transformation Programme, led by NHS England, has been underway since January 2022 with an ambition to build a defined programme of work helping to reduce ill health and health inequalities in rural areas through a focussed investment in educating, training, wider workforce development and digitally enabling the health and care workforces.  

Through multi-directorate collaboration and partnership working with Integrated Care System (ICS) leads in pilot geographies, the programme brings together a suite of national initiatives for local implementation and adoption in rural and coastal settings. The pilot ICS geographies are Lincolnshire, Norfolk & Waveney, Suffolk & Northeast Essex, Kent & Medway. Within each of the pilot areas, priorities are shaped based on local needs, incorporating national programmes alongside local projects.

One focus of the programme is the medical workforce. This is through existing strategies including the medical specialty distribution programme; an NHS England programme which focuses on fairness and looks to address health inequalities by reviewing and aligning investment into postgraduate medical specialty training to the areas of greatest need across England. This current workforce seldom moves far from where its training occurs. The programme recognises the challenges faced by remote, rural and coastal systems and seeks to provide support for the recruitment and retention into these areas.

Further focus comes from a recent review to explore opportunities to widening participation and access to medical schools. The ambition is to increase applications from rural communities, and to contribute to this work we are looking for real-life stories of doctors and medical students in such communities; to share the story of individual’s career pathway, demonstrate opportunities and diversity within medicine, and inspire future medical students.

Another piece of work in development is focused on career development strategies; collating approaches, recommendations and good practice examples that could be adopted by organisations in rural areas to develop and enhance the careers of clinical professionals, supporting attraction and retention. This may be about approaches taken to developing split roles across specialities/organisations, or creation of roles that incorporate additional responsibilities e.g. education, research or leadership.

These areas of work are in early stages of delivery and contribution from organisations and/or individuals who can provide relevant examples would be valued. We are asking if you can consider whether you have helpful stories and examples you are able to share, and please also encourage others to do the same. It is important that we surface and share real examples of success to ensure wider spread of benefits, with all contributions supporting further development of the programme and providing healthcare systems with resources and tested approaches to attract and retain the healthcare workforce in rural areas.

For doctors and medical students who are able to share their real-life career story this can be done by completing the relevant form below:

To share information in relation to the career development work, or to arrange to speak to a member of the team in order to discuss/share further detail, please contact england.wte.transformation@nhs.net.


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