The Department of Health (DH) has unveiled plans to create a new Centre of Excellence to provide advice on workforce planning for providers, PCTs and strategic health authorities (SHAs).
In the DH document, A High Quality Workforce, part of the NHS Next Stage Review led by health minister and surgeon Lord Darzi, plans were set out to reform planning, education and training systems.
The review will also create an independent advisory nondepartmental body, Medical Education England, for doctors, dentists, pharmacists, healthcare scientists and low-volume specialities, a move welcomed by the British Medical Association (BMA).
The new Centre of Excellence, which will be hosted by one or more universities, will provide long-term "horizon scanning" of trends relating to workforce planning and assistance to SHAs and other stakeholders.
It will use data supplied by SHAs, and will act as a resource for SHAs, PCT commissioning bodies and service providers.
It will also analyse SHA data and present it to the professional advisory boards with advice; as well as offering evidence-based analytical function for workforce supply and demand modelling.
Under the new workforce planning system set out by the review, local councils and PCTs will continue to commission based on local need. Combined service and workforce plans will be sent from PCTs to the SHAs, who will draw up regional plans to be sent via the Centre of Excellence to the relevant regional and national professional bodies for scrutiny.