Government plans to boost the NHS through a new workforce plan has been welcomed and received well by the board which provides North East healthcare services.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak revealed his latest plans for the NHS on June 30, announcing the Long-Term Workforce plan that will see staff boosted and medical school places doubled.

In a press conference, Mr Sunak confirmed that the number of medical school places available at universities each year will grow from 7,500 to 15,000 by 2031.

Read more: Newcastle University welcomes med school places doubling

Current plans will also see GP training places doubled and 24,000 more nurses and midwives trained each year.

The North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB) has reacted positively to the plans, believing it will make a difference to the future of the NHS.

David Purdue, executive chief nurse at the ICB, said: "The new NHS workforce plan is very much welcome, along with the additional investment in growing our workforce, increasing training places and retaining skilled staff who already work in our services.

"We will work through this plan over the coming months to ensure we have the right workforce to meet the needs of our communities in the future.

"In the North East and North Cumbria, we are also taking steps to attract talented people into the health and care workforce from all our communities with good training and support with health and wellbeing.

"Training and workforce are one of a number of areas where we are taking important steps for the future.

"In a year since our ICB was created for the North East and North Cumbria, we have improved access to primary care appointments, invested more in helping people quit smoking, increased diagnostic capacity and are investing £35m to improve health in our most deprived communities.

"We have also set demanding targets to measure our progress by 2030, including increasing life expectancy, reducing the health gap between our most and least deprived communities, ensuring high quality services no matter where you live, and giving our children a better start in life.

"A wide range of innovations across our region's NHS – from advances in heart care to new digital technologies – are also making a difference for the future."

In his press conference, Mr Sunak said the new 15-year plan will “deliver the biggest ever expansion in the number of doctors and nurses that we train, and a plan to reform the NHS so we deliver better care in a changing world, and a plan that not only eases the pressures today, but protects this precious national institution for the long term”.

He added: “You can trust this Government with the NHS. The plan rests on three principles, train retain and reform.

“First, training. We’ll double the number of medical training places by 2031, focusing on areas where there are too few doctors today, we’ll train over 24,000 more nurses and midwives a year and increase the number of GP training places by 50 per cent.

“In time, this will allow us to reduce our spending on temporary agency staff by £10 billion and cut the need for international recruitment. Today the proportion recruited from overseas is around one in four – with our plan it will fall to just one in 10.”

Politically, the reaction of MPs and candidates have been mixed, as a leaked email appears to support claims from Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting that doubling medical school places was originally a Labour policy.

The email, written by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, suggests ministers adopted their idea of doubling the number of places at medical schools for student doctors.

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The email was sent to the now Chancellor’s group Patient Safety Watch on September 28, 2022, of which he is a founder and trustee.

At that time, Mr Hunt was a backbench MP but would soon replace former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng on October 14 after Mr Sunak replaced Liz Truss as Prime Minister.

In the email, Mr Hunt said: “Despite my obvious political allegiances it would be remiss of me not to mention the fact that Labour has pledged to double the number of medical school places and recruit additional health visitors and district nurses.

"The medical school place increase was something the Select Committee called for in its report on workforce and so is something I very much hope the government also adopts on the basis that smart governments always nick the best ideas of their opponents."