Published: 01/12/2005 Volume 115 No. 5984 Page 28

There is a potential goldmine awaiting those who can accurately predict the future.

As 2005 draws to a close and many of those leading the NHS face a tough time, why not consider what 2015 might look like for the still busy trust workforce director?

Think how much has changed since 1995. One constant theme, though, has been the underlying need to improve employment practice and work hard to keep human resources at the top of the agenda.

The changes of the past 10 years will seem totally insignificant compared to what lies ahead over the next 10. The challenge for HR management is to be in charge of this change and deliver it in a way that improves working lives and enhances the quality of the patient experience.

We used to have 'working together', which got trumped by 'more staff, working differently'. What will be the workforce campaign in 2015? Hours will be fewer, working time more intense and individual career expectations far more demanding.

The HR in the NHS conference, which will still be the largest such gathering in Europe, will welcome delegates with the slogan: 'frontline staff - today's leadership'.

Current 'new' ways of working being designed and implemented will seem old fashioned. There will be an electronic patient record, connecting up the patient journey as it weaves its way round sectors and employers. This will mean big changes for staff and managers.

While my lottery prediction skills have proven fruitless, here is my big bold guess for 2015. There will be a brand new role - the healthcare bodyguard - named not because patients need protection but because some of them need someone by their side throughout their time in hospital.

Posts will be focused on the most complex and vulnerable patients, freeing up supervisors and clinical staff.

Agenda for Change has permitted this pan-professional role to be created, tearing its way through traditional demarcations.

An average acute hospital will have up to 40 of these staff, freshly degreeeducated, with responsibility for five inpatients on any day and 20 outpatients each week.

They will be modelled on the role played by medical students deployed during major incidents, where they buddy up with casualties throughout their stay up until their discharge or admission.

They will be trained and motivated to work alongside individual patients, ensuring that beds are clean, equipment functioning and responsible for transferring them to places of diagnosis and treatment. For many it will be a stepping stone to other healthcare careers; for the rest a long-term, valuable and rewarding job.

If something needs doing, the bodyguard will do it: cleaner, porter, technician, carer, service monitor and advocate.

David Amos is director of workforce at University College London Hospitals foundation trust and is former DoH deputy director of human resources.