David Cameron recently stated there is still a “long way to go” to raise standards of care in the NHS amidst a flurry of reports of a health service in crisis. He indicated that improving care is one of his top priorities for 2013; ensuring that patients experience dignity, respect and suitable nutrition whilst being cared for by services. Whilst the prime minister rightly praises the incredible job many in the NHS are doing, there is no doubt that the challenges the health service faces are some of the toughest it’s faced since its founding in 1948.

The next REC Healthcare meeting on January 22 will look at these challenges and how flexibility and innovation offer a way forward for the NHS to maintain safe staffing levels and improve the provision of care in difficult times.

From dealing with a rapidly ageing population to experiencing considerable financial constraint as NHS organisations battle to reach a £20 billion efficiency target by 2015, the health service is under pressure. As the new health architecture established by the Health and Social Care Act 2012 takes shape across the NHS, safe staffing and quality of care are top of the agenda. If services are to respond to unexpected circumstances, do more with less and meet increasing levels of demand, then innovative ways of working and different models of workforce planning will be required. The effective and efficient use of agency and temporary staff will be a significant feature of this developing health environment.

Speakers from NHS Employers, the Government Procurement Service (GPS), an NHS Trust, The Pensions Regulator (TPR) and the Prince’s Trust will join the REC Chief Executive Kevin Green to discuss a range of topics, from pensions, procurement and patient care, through to encouraging young people into the care profession. Members will have the opportunity to engage the speakers on these issues as well as share their experiences of operating in a changing health sector.

Andrew Horner, Chair of REC Healthcare believes firmly dynamic public services require innovative solutions: “David Cameron and others in government continue to talk about improving care and patient experience without fully engaging in the debate about how this is to be done. This is a time of great change for the NHS and the truth of the matter is that if improvements are to be made then new ways of working are needed.”

REC Healthcare continues to take forward this message to government and to key bodies across the NHS. Andrew concludes: “Our agencies are acknowledged as key partners in the management and development of the NHS workforce. We work closely with the Department of Health, NHS organisations and bodies such as the GPS to improve services and supply the staff the health service needs to meet the challenges it faces.”