Skip to content


Dr Bob Phillips on the Children's Oncology Ward at Leeds General Infirmary


The NHS is experiencing its most challenging moment in its 70-year history, with unprecedented pressures and staffing shortages, and the needs of our population have grown and changed. We are taking action to make a real impact on healthcare.

Why we are taking on workforce research

The NHS Long Term Workforce Plan states that the NHS "needs a robust and effective plan to ensure we have the right number of people, with the right skills and support in place to be able to deliver the kind of care people need."

Despite an expanding clinical workforce, the NHS are grappling with three key challenges in the Long Term Workforce Plan:

  • Train - Grow the workforce: The retention and recruitment crisis within the NHS has resulted in severe shortages of healthcare professionals across multiple specialties. There is accumulating evidence that this shortage is resulting in patient mortality rates.

  • Retain - Embed the right culture and improve retention: The current healthcare workforce faces various challenges, including recruitment and selection of the right candidates, workplace learning, professionalism, wellbeing, and adapting to an increasingly digital, automated environment.

  • Reform - Working and training differently: Modern communities face evolving healthcare needs, including the rising burden of chronic diseases and treatment-related harm. Existing policy recognises that changes in health professional culture and practice are essential to meet these challenges effectively.*

* Ridge, Fuller, Kings Fund, Tinetti & Fried< WHO

Almost 10% of posts in the NHS are vacant - equal to over 132,000 staff
We understand the urgency of addressing workforce challenges, and we are taking action to make a real impact on healthcare.

Medicine student on a GP clinical placement, in a consultation with a patient

What we want to achieve

We want to address the challenges facing the NHS head-on. We are informing changes to the recruitment and selection of healthcare professionals, the work people do, the healthcare policy that shapes their work, and the resources they have to make it happen.

We are also leading and supporting healthcare organisations, providers and regulators in maximising their effectiveness of educational delivery and supporting the workforce.

We’re doing it through leading research to understand how to define, deliver and judge the impact of changes in professional practice. This research is informing national policy and guidelines.

We also deliver cutting-edge teaching to healthcare professionals through our PGCert, PGDip and MSc in Health Professions Education, and through our innovate CATALYST programme aimed at training and retaining new GPs.

Three researchers in the Academy of Primary Care in conversation
Researchers in the Academy of Primary Care in discussion

Our expertise in workforce research

  • Our Academy of Primary Care is driving the redesign and delivery of workforce, clinical care and service design needed for 21st century primary care practice. They strive to promote and foster excellence in primary care, through their innovative research which informs policy and practice, and through their research-informed training to medical students and GPs.

  • Our Health Professions Education Unit is dedicated to enhancing the quality of medical and health professions recruitment and selection, education, research, and training. The Unit’s research tackles critical workforce challenges, which have a significant impact on patient care and outcomes. Recognising the existing gap in evidence, the Unit aims to provide valuable insights to inform decision-making within the clinical workforce.

  • Our Cancer Awareness and Screening Pathways research group supports colleagues engaged in applied health cancer projects, in particular those projects related to improving earlier cancer diagnosis through screening access and uptake, symptom recognition and help-seeking, primary care diagnosis and referral, the primary-secondary care interface, and care pathway redesign.

  • Our Wolfson Palliative Care Research Centre undertakes research in evidence-based practices, contributes to education and training, informing workforce development strategies, and fosters collaboration among palliative care professionals.

Thank you to our funders and supporters

Desk with stethoscope and clinic tenometer