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Working Well in Healthcare: The Changes, Challenges and Opportunities for Developing your Workforce

Coach Lane


Join Laura Serrant, Leadership, Development and Inclusive Practice Specialist, Mark Radford, National Director of Education and Training and Long-Term Workforce Plan Delivery and Deputy Chief Nursing Officer - England and Alison Machin Chair of the Council of Deans of Health who will be participating in our Working Well in Healthcare: The Changes, Challenges and Opportunities for Developing your Workforce event.

Are you responsible for developing your workforce and overseeing career progression?

Our speakers will cover a range of topics including the challenges and opportunities surrounding the long term workforce plan, measures that can be taken to retain and upskill your existing workforce and the importance of ensuring wellbeing and equity across your workforce when it comes to supporting staff retention.

Our event will include a Q&A session and a think tank session with panelists during which we intend to look at the ways in which healthcare providers can better support, develop and retain staff throughout their careers by adopting innovative approaches to working, training and improving productivity. There will also be plenty of opportunities for audience discussion, debate and networking.

As you may well be aware, Northumbria University has a well-established suite of health and social care related degree, CPD and workforce development programmes. Nursing at Northumbria is ranked Top 20 in the UK by the Complete University Guide for 2024 and 99% of our nursing graduates are in highly skilled employment or further study 15 months after graduation (Guardian University Guide, 2024) – accolades that we’re very proud of. We’re invested in supporting the sector and its staff and we hope that this event will provide an invaluable opportunity to learn, discuss and debate a timely and important subject.

Ahead of the event we have featured in the Nursing Times to contribute to the discussion surrounding this event. Please read the article here.

Event Itinerary





Arrival and Breakfast     9am The Hub
Welcome John Unsworth  9:30am  


Key Note Speaker  Alison Machin  9:45am  


CHASE Introduction

John Unsworth



Key Note Speaker Laura Serrant   10:15am  


Spotlight Session

Mark Radford (Joining Virtually)





Spotlight Session Q&A Mark Radford (Joining Virtually)  11:10am  



OSCE Centre (Optional Tour)


 11:25am The Hub
Panel and Think Tank

Hosted by John Unsworth

Debra Porteous

Laura Serrant

Alison Machin

 11:55am - 1pm  


Lunch    1pm  


Networking and Exhibition  


1pm - 2pm





Event Host

John Unsworth 

Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor for Health and Life Sciences

John Unsworth

John Unsworth has worked in Higher Education since 2007 and has held posts at the Higher Education Academy, University of Sunderland and at previously at Northumbria University. John’s research relates to patient safety and workforce development around competence.

John has a background in primary and community care having been a Nurse Director in a geographically large Primary Care Trust in England. From 2001 to 2007 John was professional lead for nursing, allied health and adult social care / social work within Northumberland NHS Care Trust. Until 2018 he was Board Nurse on NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group. During the pandemic he has worked for NHS Test and Trace and a Clinical Contact Caseworker and is now delivering Covid-19 vaccines in Primary Care.

Read more about John here.


Guest Speakers:

Professor Laura Serrant OBE 

Laura Serrant

Professor Laura Serrant OBE works with individuals and organisations to help them meet their personal aspirations, corporate and social responsibilities of optimising inclusive practice to improve their business impact, client experiences and deliver their best of themselves. Author of over 100 articles, including edited books, she is one of the BBC Expert women and was named as the 8th most influential Black person in Britain by the Powerlist UK and was awarded an OBE in the 2018 Queens Birthday Honours’ list. She has a successful podcast ‘Speaking for ourselves’ available on most podcast platforms.  

Her seminal poem ‘You Called...And We Came’ commemorates the anniversary of the Empire Windrush landing and the NHS. The poem stands as the inscription on the National Windrush Monument in Waterloo Station, London. 


Professor Mark Radford

Mark Radford

Professor Mark Radford is currently National Director of Long Term Workforce Plan for Delivery, Director of Education and Training and Deputy Chief Nursing Officer for England and was formerly the Chief Nurse of Health Education England.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mark led the national NHS vaccine workforce program ensuring the success in phase 1 delivery of 15m vaccinations.   The program recruited and trained over 250k people including 90k clinicians and 70k volunteers in a few months to launch one of the world’s fastest programs.   He also led the deployment of Student nurses in the pandemic response waves 1 and 2, with 71 Universities in England. 

As Deputy Chief Nursing Officer for England, Mark supports the Chief Nursing Officer in ensuring the NHS workforce is fit for the future. This includes recruitment and retention, skills development, maintaining the quality of management and leadership, tackling inequality and breaking down barriers, ensuring places of work are rewarding, positive and filled with opportunity, and enabling more volunteers to support front-line staff.  

Throughout his clinical career, Mark has maintained his academic interests. He has been involved in multiple research projects looking at the roles of nursing in advanced practice, gender disparity and pay, as well as big data analysis of nursing and retention, among others. He has also published five books on emergency and perioperative surgery throughout his career. He is also a Professor of Nursing at Birmingham City University and Coventry University, with research covering emergency care models, advanced practice, staffing, risk modelling, clinical decision-making, expertise and sociological issues in healthcare. 

Mark was honoured with a CBE in The Queen’s New Year Honours 2022 list.  



Professor Alison Machin

Alison Machin

Alison is a Professor of Nursing and Interprofessional Education and Head of the Department of Nursing, Midwifery and Health at Northumbria University in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. In 2023 she was appointed Chair of the Council of Deans of Health, UK wide. She is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Previous posts held include Dean of the School of Health and Social Care at Edinburgh Napier University and Deputy Faculty Pro Vice-Chancellor at Northumbria University. She has also been the strategic lead for a high profile, international nurse education collaborative venture in Malta in partnership with Malta College of Arts Science and Technology. Alison has worked in higher education since 1999, she is an active researcher, an experienced PhD supervisor and examiner. She is a registered nurse and health visitor. Her research interests include: interprofessional education; nursing and healthcare collaborative workforce development; professional identity; health visiting; and public health; using qualitative methodologies including grounded theory. 


Our Expert Panel:

Emeritus Professor Debra Porteous

Debra Porteous

Former Head of Department for Nursing, Midwifery and Health at Northumbria University and Professor Emeritus, has 42 years teaching experience with students and colleagues in a professional nursing/ healthcare practice setting (1986-1995) and in a Higher Education setting (1995 – 2024), at undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral academic levels. Her clinical practice has focused on children’s nursing where Debra has led teams of nurses/doctors to be nationally recognised for the care given to children and families. An area of interest is empowering parents and young people to have a voice in the care they receive.


Debra has achieved a Professional doctorate and is interested in the student experience within Higher Education relating to nurse education. Debra is a significant contributor to knowledge in her discipline, advancing theory and practice, through research and presentations/engagement in regional and national bodies. Read more about Debra here.


 Keynote Overview

Laura Serrant





"They, us, I - Optimising Equity, Inclusion and Belonging to Safeguard our Professions and Ourselves"  

  • The value of a global perspective on workforce for the UK 
  • Importance of centralising wellbeing and equity across the workforce  
  • The importance of and equity mindset and action in leadership for retaining and developing staff 
  • How leading as ourselves is our greatest resource and professional contribution.



 Mark Radford



  • Overview of the NHS Long term workforce plan and its ambitions for growth , retention and reform
  • Role of Higher education in the LTWP
  • Implications for care , service design and delivery 


 Alison Machin


  • An introduction to the role of the Council of Deans of Health
  • Key challenges and priorities for the HE sector
  • Role identity in a turbulent environment – key implications for interprofessional wellbeing 


Please view our Nursing, Midwifery and Health workforce development brochure here.


Event Details

Coach Lane
Campus West
Newcastle upon Tyne


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