About us

Find out about the work and aims of the Social Partnership Forum.
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The SPF brings together NHS Employers, NHS trade unions, Health Education England, NHS England (NHSE), and the Department of Health and Social Care, to contribute to the development and implementation of policy that impacts on the health workforce.

The primary aims of the SPF are to:

  • contribute staff side and employer perspectives to emerging policy at a formative stage
  • improve policy development and implementation by feeding in ideas on workforce implications
  • promote good practice in relation to partnership working and effective communication between partners.

The SPF Partnership Agreement, updated July 2022, sets out the framework through which SPF partners commit to work collectively to tackle healthcare system priorities and challenges.

Another key aim of the SPF is to encourage employers and trade unions to work together to ensure a positive working environment, in which staff can provide high quality care and services. To facilitate this approach, the national SPF highlights useful tools and resources to promote and support partnership working in the NHS. Case studies are also developed by partners and published on the SPF website, to evidence positive outcomes achieved through partnership working and to share learning. 

The SPF does not discuss the contractual arrangements for NHS staff as this is carried out in the NHS Staff Council which has overall responsibility for the Agenda for Change pay system.

Priority areas

In May 2022, the national SPF co-chairs wrote to the co-chairs of the regional SPFs setting out the priorities of the national forum for the financial year. These include:

  • assisting the national approach to NHS service recovery and ensuring that staff experience and welfare is at the forefront of minds when related policy is developed and implemented
  • considering the 2021 NHS Staff Survey results to inform national work and encouraging regional and organisational partnerships to use the results to identify priority issues to address  
  • working closely with NHSE on their programmes to support the health and wellbeing of NHS staff, civility and respect in the workplace, and preventing and reducing violence against staff
  • linking in with NHSE on equality, diversity, and inclusion activity 
  • engaging in the refresh of the Long Term Plan and in the development of a workforce strategy
  • career development linked to staff retention
  • supporting the workforce through the organisational change arising from the establishment of integrated care boards.

Reviews and key achievements

We periodically undertake or commission a review of how the national SPF is performing. These reviews take the form of a heat check or more in-depth stocktake. We also periodically identify and showcase our key achievements. See below our reviews and key achievements since 2019.

  • In 2019, the Involvement and Participation Association carried out a stocktake of the national SPF. Read the stocktake report 2019.

  • View this infographic showing the work of the national SPF and its key achievements in the 2019/20 financial year.

  • Read the stocktake report of work undertaken by the national SPF in the 2020/21 financial year.

  • Read about the national SPF's work and key achievements from April 2020 to March 2022.

  • Find out what members had to say about the work of the national SPF in the heat check, conducted October 2022.

Regional SPFs

We have nine regional SPFs who bring together employers, trade unions and system leaders at a regional level.

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