NHS Long Term Workforce Plan

I am pleased to see the publication of the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan. This places focus on the heart of the NHS – its people. I fully support the 3 pillars of this report, to train, retain and reform. Recognising the current workforce crisis and future predictions of huge workforce shortfall – shows the absolute need to increase the number of healthcare professionals across the service. With staff morale at an all time low – efforts to address career progression, work/life balance, burnout and stress are key to supporting staff and making them feel valued. Finally, i’m encouraged to see a re-newed focus on New Ways of Working, highlighting the introduction and expansion of a variety of roles supporting the multidisciplinary team across all parts of the NHS.

Anaesthesia Associates have been highlighted as a key role for expansion. Currently there are around 180 qualified AA’s across the UK, with estimated supply growing to 2000 by 2036/2037. Our association will work closely with all stakeholders to support the successful introduction and growth of AA’s in anaesthesia teams across the UK. Some departments have nearing 20 years experience working with AA’s and recent impact case studies1 have shown the valuable contribution these team members can have on service provision and departments. Utilising this knowledge and highlighting good practice2 will be key to support AA workforce expansion. GMC regulation expected in late 2024 will further support the structured and safe growth of this workforce.

Whilst plans for AA expansion are very timely, this alone will not fully address the workforce crisis in Anaesthesia. Growth in the number of Consultants, SAS doctors and Anaesthetists in training is absolutely necessary to strengthen the anaesthesia workforce, offering patients the timely, safe care expected within the NHS.

I will be closely following the next steps looking towards implementation of this workforce plan.

Sarah Massey

AAA President


1. https://www.hee.nhs.uk/our-work/medical-associate-professions/impact-case-studies/anaesthesia-associate-role-impact-case-study
2. Sellers C, Penfold N, Gass C, Drennan V. The experience of working with anaesthesia associates in the United Kingdom and the impact on medical anaesthetic training. Int J Health Plann Manage. 2022; 372767-2778