The CEO and chair of the Association of Professional Healthcare Analysts (AphA) have written to NHS England CEO Amanda Pritchard to raise their concern about the omission of any mention of data and analytics in the latest Workforce Strategy.

In an email to Pritchard from AphA CEO Rony Arafin and AphA chair Andi Orlowski, supported by the CEO of the Federation for Health Informatics Professionals (FEDIP) Andrew Griffiths, the lack of data and analytics experts in the workforce plan are highlighted and questioned.

The email, which can be viewed in full here, states: “We all know that the NHS is home to an untapped goldmine of healthcare data… As the workforce plan notes, the service will need to embrace innovations like AI and robotic process automation to tap into this mine of data.

“And it can’t do any of this without analysts: professional analytical experts who can make sense of the data, build confidence in new technology and make sure it is used safely and responsibly. But there is no mention of these experts in the workforce plan.”

The AphA CEO and chair say in the email that they were “surprised to learn no mention of Data and Analytics in the workforce plan”, despite the fact that the NHS clearly recognises how important this work is.

The email explains that the word “data” appears more than 100 times in the plan, yet “analytics” does not appear once, despite the fact that there are already 13,000 experts working in the health service, with this number expected to grow to 35,000 by 2030.

The AphA CEO and chair explain to Pritchard that “the health service needs to start acknowledging its analyst workforce, creating career progression pathways and investing in training”.

They add: “In AphA’s view, the omission of analysts from the workforce plan is untenable. But it is one that can be rectified. Together, we can build a professional expert workforce that attracts new talent and develops the skills of existing staff.”

Last month it was reported that NHS England executives removed a series of commitments to future plans and policies from its long-term workforce plan, including a previous promise to draw up a dedicated digital workforce plan.