By Ian Mean
Business West Gloucestershire director and vice chair, GFirstLEP
We cannot, and we must not, ignore the fact that the National Health Service is Gloucestershire’s biggest business in terms of employment.
Overall, there are something around 14 000 people in our county employed directly or indirectly in the NHS.
In a week when we celebrated the 75th Anniversary of what many people regard as our greatest institution, we do need to recognise how important the NHS is to our local economy.
With all the hospital and care services provided by the NHS in Gloucestershire, I would estimate that it spends and generates something over £800 million.
And we must also realise that we have an excellent supply chain to the NHS nationally through specialist companies like Renishaw and Corin.
The recruitment and development of our NHS staff, is of course , a major business challenge.
We currently have around 23 000 job vacancies in Gloucestershire with nursing and care workers at the top of that list.
The NHS has just published what they call a “long term Workforce Plan” which sets out ambitious goals to double the number of adult nurse training places by 2013 with a planned 170 000 by 2036/37.
These are big recruitment figures which will be difficult to achieve, and even the NHS England boss Amanda Pritchard has warned the plan is not a “magic wand”.
However, here in the county I do believe we are getting on the right track through the University of Gloucestershire’s initiative over the last few years to drive the training and qualification of Nursing Associates.
And to this end, I have been very impressed by what the University is now developing at the iconic former Debenhams building in the centre of Gloucester.
With some great foresight, they are setting up nurse training as a major part of this new campus so we can literally grow our own nurses for Gloucestershire on our doorstep.
This is just the sort of business and education initiative that the NHS needs to try and come to terms with its recruitment challenge.
We should applaud and support it and recognise just how important the NHS is in its 75th year to our economy in Gloucestershire.