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Strength in Numbers – House of Commons to vote again on workforce planning in the Health and Care Bill

The coalition of over 100 health and care organisations behind the #StrengthInNumbers campaign has issued another briefing urging MPs to support and vote for stronger workforce planning as the Health and Care Bill returns to the House of Commons for another round of ping-pong. 

At the end of March 2022, MPs voted to reject an amendment that would have secured independent assessments of how many NHS and social care staff are needed to keep up with demand. The following week, the House of Lords - led by Baroness Cumberlege, with support from Labour, the Liberal Democrats and other cross-party peers including Baroness Harding and Lord Stevens of Birmingham - voted to put a revised version of the amendment back into the bill.

The House of Commons must now decide whether to accept the revised amendment or reject it again.

Amendment 29B in lieu, revised from the last time MPs voted on the Health and Care Bill, seeks to address some of the government’s concerns:

  • it requires the Secretary of State to publish a workforce assessment every three years, rather than two;
  • revises down the maximum length of projections to 15 years to align with government’s own plans, and;
  • removes the requirement for assessments to be independently verified.

Government says it is committed to improving workforce planning and ‘increasing transparency and accountability’. But Clause 35 as originally drafted will not set out how many health and social care staff are needed to meet demand.

The government says it is already taking steps to ensure ‘record numbers of staff working in the NHS’. But record numbers tell us very little about whether we have enough staff to meet demand now or in future.

It also says it has commissioned a ‘long-term strategic framework’. But the framework will not tell us the numbers of staff needed to keep up with demand.

NHS England has also been commissioned to produce a ‘long-term workforce strategy’. But government blocked the inclusion of projected staff numbers in the last NHS workforce strategy. A one-off plan without numbers doesn’t get us very far.

The Minister Ed Argar referred to the ‘challenges of a long term projection’ and the ‘dynamic nature of workforce trends’. But this is why projections are needed: without them, there is no way to assess how changes in workforce trends, such as retirements or working part-time, will impact the delivery of healthcare.

During the last Commons’ debate in March, Minister Ed Argar said amendment 29 was not ‘necessary in its current form’. The coalition of over 100 health and care organisations that make up the #StrengthInNumbers campaign hopes that was a signal that government is open to finding a compromise on this issue.

Who's involved


  1. Academy of Medical Royal Colleges
  2. Academy of Medical Sciences
  3. Age UK
  4. Alzheimers Society
  5. Association for Palliative Medicine of Great Britain and Ireland
  6. Association of British Clinical Diabetologists
  7. Association of British Neurologists
  8. Association of Cancer Physicians
  9. Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation
  10. Bliss
  11. Blood Cancer UK
  12. Bowel Cancer UK
  13. Brain Tumour Charity
  14. Brain Tumour Research
  15. brainstrust - the brain cancer people
  16. Breast Cancer Now
  17. British and Irish Association of Stroke Physicians
  18. British Association of Dermatologists
  19. British Association of Sexual Health & HIV
  20. British Cardiovascular Society
  21. British Geriatrics Society
  22. British Heart Foundation
  23. British Medical Association (BMA)
  24. British Nuclear Medicine Society
  25. British Pharmacological Society
  26. British Psychological Society
  27. British Society for Haematology
  28. British Society for Rheumatology
  29. British Thoracic Society
  30. Cancer Awareness for Teens & Twenties
  31. Cancer Black Care
  32. Cancer Research UK
  33. Cancer52
  34. Centre for Mental Health
  35. Chartered Society of Physiotherapy
  36. Children with Cancer UK
  37. Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group
  38. Clinical Genetics Society
  39. CLL Support
  40. Crohn's & Colitis UK
  41. Diabetes UK
  42. Faculty of Dental Surgery, Royal College of Surgeons of England
  43. Faculty of Physician Associates
  44. Faculty of Public Health
  45. Faculty of Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare
  46. Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine
  47. Grace Kelly Childhood Cancer Trust
  48. Health Foundation
  49. Independent Age
  50. Intensive Care Society
  51. Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust
  52. Action Kidney Cancer
  53. Kidney Cancer UK
  54. Macmillan Cancer Support
  55. Marie-Curie
  56. Medical Schools Council
  57. Mencap
  58. Mental Health Foundation
  59. Mesothelioma UK
  60. Mind
  61. Myeloma UK
  62. National Voices
  63. Neurological Alliance
  64. NHS Confederation
  65. NHS Providers
  66. Nuffield Trust
  67. One Cancer Voice
  68. Ovacome
  69. Ovarian Cancer Action
  70. Pancreatic Cancer UK
  71. Parkinson's UK
  72. Prostate Cancer UK
  73. Rethink Mental Illness
  74. Royal College of Anaesthetists
  75. Royal College of Emergency Medicine
  76. Royal College of General Practitioners
  77. Royal College of Midwives
  78. Royal College of Nursing
  79. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
  80. Royal College of Occupational Therapists
  81. Royal College of Ophthalmologists
  82. Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
  83. Royal College of Pathologists
  84. Royal College of Physicians
  85. Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
  86. Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh
  87. Royal College of Psychiatrists
  88. Royal College of Radiologists
  89. Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists
  90. Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh
  91. Royal College of Surgeons of England
  92. Sarcoma UK
  93. Society for Acute Medicine
  94. Society for Endocrinology
  95. Solving Kids Cancer
  96. Stroke Association
  97. Sue Ryder
  98. Target Ovarian Cancer
  99. Teenage Cancer Trust
  100. The King's Fund
  101. The Richmond Group
  102. UK Kidney Association
  103. UNISON
  104. Young Lives vs Cancer
  105. Young Minds