A future vision for the health and care workforce

In 2021, the Institute for Public Policy Research commissioned NatCen to deliver a deliberative assembly with health and care workers.
Anesthetist working in operating theatre

In 2021, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) commissioned NatCen’s Centre for Deliberation (CfD) to deliver a deliberative assembly with health and care workers to create a future vision for the health and care workforce in the UK.

About the study

Workforce crises in the NHS happen around every 20 years and solutions are often insufficient for addressing the long-established, structural drivers behind such crises. To identify long-term solutions that support the health and care workforce to be more resilient to crises, the IPPR commissioned NatCen’s CfD to conduct a deliberative assembly with 15 health and care workers. Across four workshops assembly members used their experiences and perspectives to agree future policy priorities for the health and care workforce.


Assembly members agreed four key principles that could make the health and care workforce is more resilient to future crises: 

  • Just: The workforce needs to be and feel a just place to work. This means tackling discrimination in all its forms as well as striving for parity in pay and recognition. To achieve this, a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to discrimination should be prioritised, alongside equal access to training and support and equal pay. 
  • Sustainable: The workforce needs effective recruitment and retention in order to remain sustainable in the face of recurring crises. ‘Over supply’ and broadening the career offer to more sections of society were identified as priority actions to improve recruitment. Supervision and support (both professional and in terms of wellbeing) were prioritised to improve retention. 
  • Integrated: The workforce needs to enable seamless working across and within health and care, with patient experience at the centre. To achieve an integrated workforce, members prioritised a consistent approach to management as well as enabling more work across different health and care settings. 
  • Innovative: The workforce needs to use technology innovations to enable better care. Beyond interoperability of IT systems, members were unsure how to achieve innovation, which reflects the need for more thought leadership that connects technological innovation with the day-to-day experiences of the health and care workforce.


The CfD held four assembly sessions with health and care professionals from a range of different backgrounds. Session one introduced to participants the concept of a future vision and key trends in the health and care workforce, which provided a basis for discussions around what the health and care system could look like in 2035. The themes which emerged from session one provided the framework for discussions in sessions two and three, where participants explored the emergent themes in more detail and considered how they might be achieved. CfD and IPPR researchers then worked to refine the themes into a set of policy related actions. Participants then deliberated on and prioritised these policy actions in the fourth and final session. 

Process diagram for the study
Process diagram