Creating a new NHS England: Health Education England, NHS Digital and NHS England have merged. Learn more.

Promoting Excellence In Psychological Health & Wellbeing

Blog: Long Term Workforce Plan

17 Jul 23

Hear from Dr Adrian Whittington on the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan

Long Term Workforce Plan


As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the foundation of the NHS, we have seen the publication, on 30th June 2023, of the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan. These are two important milestones for those that care about the NHS. The plan also represents a further step forward towards a more psychological NHS.

There are a number of big wins for the psychological professions in the Plan. The biggest single one of these is the demand model, which sets the growth ambition of 24,000 - 26,000 additional posts for psychological professionals by 2037, a 157% increase on the stated baseline. This makes it, I think, the fastest growing demand for any professional group in the NHS. The rate of demand growth for psychological professions is faster than the rate of growth in mental health in the model.

The training supply model is incomplete in the plan and needs extending with profession-specific plans. Nevertheless, the commitment to continuing with the current level of clinical psychology and child psychotherapy intake (and growing this) to 2037, and a £600m investment over three years in continuation of psychological therapies and psychological practitioner training is worth noting. These represent significant wins. 

Regarding professional body involvement - I was very disappointed and surprised to see all of our professional organisations missing from the list of those that were "involved". I have made my objection to the omission clear to the editorial team. However, it is worth noting that I don't think any of the bodies listed saw the plan prior to publication and that involvement for many was limited to a single briefing at their request.

The focus within the Plan on the potential of apprenticeship expansion is one that should prove very positive for Clinical Associates in Psychology, Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners and the forthcoming Family and Systemic Psychotherapist apprenticeships. Whilst it is regrettable that psychological professions apprenticeships don't get a specific mention in the Plan, I don't think this will make a material difference to the positive progress of these apprenticeships. We will continue to make clear that these apprenticeships are an important part of our supply picture as we move into more detailed planning.

I am committed to progressing things from here with involvement from across the professional bodies and other stakeholders. The biggest challenge will be translating the high level of ambition into committed action and investment in the Integrated Care Boards. This is something we can only achieve with a wide coalition. I look forward to working in collaboration to make it happen.

Adrian Whittington

National Clinical Lead for Psychological Professions, NHS England