The SPF brings together NHS Employers, NHS trade unions, Health Education England, NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSEI) 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.
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.
In August 2021, the national SPF co-chairs wrote to the co-chairs of the regional SPFs, setting out the priorities of the national forum for the rest of the financial year. These include:
- assisting the national approach to NHS service recovery and supporting the demands on staff
- working with Health Education England on longer term workforce planning
- working closely with NHSEI on their programmes to support the health and wellbeing of NHS staff and preventing and reducing violence against staff
- linking in with NHSEI on equality, diversity, and inclusion activity
- helping to embed just and learning cultures in the NHS
- contributing employer and trade union views to support the workforce through the organisational change arising from the establishment of integrated care boards.