Trusts and local partners taking bold approaches to overcome workforce challenges and meet local population need

The move to integrated care and partnership working between health and care organisations can help the sector to overcome severe workforce challenges, according to a new briefing from NHS Providers with input from Hempsons.

With demand rising rapidly and over 100,000 vacancies in the NHS, and more in primary care, there is a pressing need for local systems to think differently about how they attract people and keep people wanting to work in the health and care sector.

A place to work: System approaches to workforce challenges in the NHS shares examples of how NHS trusts and foundation trusts have worked with partners in primary care, social care, the voluntary sector and across the wider system to develop joined-up workforce solutions, support the workforce with system transformation, and tackle challenges in recruitment and retention, and addressing skills gaps.

The briefing highlights how trusts are working with their system partners to:

  • Use workforce initiatives to drive integrated and streamline a patient’s journey through the system
  • plan for the needs of local populations across health and care organisations
  • address broader workforce challenges by attracting people into the system and offering varied and flexible careers
  • make it easier for staff to move between organisations through rotation agreements, aligning terms and conditions and ‘passporting’
  • connecting staff banks to make better use of workforce capacity in a system and reduce agency spending
  • enabling staff to develop a sense of belonging to a place or system, helping to break down organisational silos
  • utilising apprenticeships to join up staff training opportunities and develop skills for a ‘place-based’ approach to care.

Trust leaders agreed that strong, local working relationships breaking down the silos between health and care organisations are essential to successful collaborative workforce planning.

The success of these measures also depended upon system partners coming together behind shared goals to improve the health of the local population.

The director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, Miriam Deakin, said:

“These case studies reflect the innovative and bold approaches being taken by trusts and their system partners to overcome a range of workforce challenges and plan for the needs of their local populations.

“We know that attracting and retaining sufficient staff to effectively run services is the number one concern for trust leaders, and these concerns are shared across the health and care sector. Trusts are working with their system partners in innovative ways to tackle shared challenges and work towards shared goals.

“Not only do these approaches offer new opportunities to attract and train the multi-skilled workforce we need, it also provides incentives for staff to continue to work for their local system.

“It is clear that when collaborative working is supported by strong relationships it provides opportunities to work collectively to tackle workforce challenges. But each system remains on its individual journey. We must continue to support all systems in their development and to overcome financial and regulatory challenges, to enable trusts to work with their partners to meet the needs of the population.”