Developing a sustainable workforce

Current Position

This area of the strategy focuses on developing a workforce that is fit for purpose and able to deliver on the needs of the population in each of the four nations of the UK. For those working within the dietetic workforce, including the support workforce, we focus on widening access and supporting development within roles.

Our work includes: the development of routes into the profession, support for newly qualified staff to thrive, and, the development of newer areas of clinical practice such as First Contact Practitioner (FCP) and Advanced Clinical Practice (ACP). We also support our members to be digitally competent.

There are national policy drivers across all four nations to increase dietetic services, particularly in mental health and learning disabilities, paediatrics, including neonatal, and primary care amongst others.

From our intelligence, previous workforce surveys and our members’ feedback we are aware of the significant pressures dietetic departments and higher education institutions are facing in terms of vacancies, recruitment and retention.

We also recognise that there is growth and expansion of the dietetic workforce outside traditional NHS and clinical facing roles - these include freelance, sports and exercise nutrition, industry and private practice. This has resulted in greater opportunities to develop our workforce.

We are mindful that without retaining our current workforce, growing our overall numbers, and developing and advancing roles and skills, there will continue to be pressures on the system, and ability to deliver for service users.

We also need to focus energy on attracting future members of the workforce through promoting the profession to young people.

The BDA is engaged in national work to embed The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) principles of preceptorship into practice, so that all recent graduates from our accredited programmes have access to personalised support and development in their first two years of practice.

We are engaged with Higher Education Institutes and dietetic departments to ensure profession-specific input in the development of apprenticeship programmes from entry level to consultant level practice.

We are supporting our members to push the boundaries of dietetic practice through representation at national level, with the development of advanced practice roles and we continue to lobby for prescribing rights.

We remain committed to developing our support workforce through both career development and by providing a route into pre-registration dietetic courses.

There is some progress in the area of digital transformation, however there is much work still to do in supporting our members with embracing technology in everyday practice, coding for record keeping and measuring outcomes.

We also need to consider the impact artificial intelligence will have on the delivery of dietetic services, the opportunities and risks this will present.

By 2034

By 2034 the profession will be able to demonstrate strong growth in registered and non-registered workforce numbers overall, with opportunities available at every level to support lifelong careers in dietetics.

We will see a support workforce which is valued, thriving and ambitious. Dietitians whose services are in demand across all settings, will be recognised as confident, competent, and highly skilled leaders in the science of nutrition and dietetics.

By 2034 BDA members will have:

  • Access to guidance and tools to promote a digitally competent workforce.
  • Resources to help you navigate a lifelong career in dietetics.
  • A diverse workforce that has the confidence to lead in matters of equity, diversity and inclusion.

Associate members will have a greater number of career progression opportunities available to them, and BDA members will continue to be provided with support for the development of dietetic apprenticeships at all levels to enable an individual to progress to Higher Education level through this route.

By 2027 we will deliver:

  • A BDA digital strategy.
  • BDA education and practice webpages with case studies covering key areas of practice (clinical, academic, research, freelance, industry) from support workforce to consultant level.
  • Progress of the dietetic apprenticeship agenda in each of the four nations with the aim of having programmes for the support workforce up to consultant level practice across the UK.
  • Further support and guidance on the roles and responsibilities of the support workforce.
  • Embed Equity, Diversity and Inclusion messages into existing and new events, continuous professional development (CPD) and programmes.
  • A benchmark and ongoing monitoring of the diversity of the dietetic profession.