A long-term conditions workforce planning modelling tool could have benefits across the service, reports Emma Dent

A long-term conditions workforce planning modelling tool could have benefits across the service, reports Emma Dent

To prepare for the continuing growth in the number of people with long-term conditions, wholesale changes will be needed to ensure that health and social care services have enough staff - and that they, in turn, have the right skills and experience.

As part of its large-scale change programme on service improvements and workforce development, NHS Employers looked at how the NHS provides services for people with long-term conditions through research on 26 separate teams in 66 organisations.

Objectives included new ways of working, such as implementing community matron and case manager roles, cutting out staff who add no extra value to patient care and contributing to better educational and career frameworks.

The result has been that primary care trusts and strategic health authorities around the country developing initiatives, including education and training packages and further training for support workers to increase career progression.

At the former Dorset and Somerset SHA, medium and long-term workforce planning was carried out using a modelling tool. Its workforce analysis strategic planning (Wasp) was piloted in three sites: North Dorset PCT, Somerset Partnership NHS and Social Care trust and Taunton and Somerset trust.

Although centred on long-term conditions workforce planning, those involved believe it has benefits across the service. 'We wanted trusts to appreciate that planning should not
be based purely on specific services, with a piecemeal approach, but across
a whole organisation,' says NHS South West workforce service improvement manager Amanda Shobrook. 'Trusts had a lot of data but not much information.'

Her colleague, workplace planner and information analyst Tony Overd, agrees that although the participating trusts had plenty of information - staff dates of birth, Agenda for Changestatus and number of hours worked - they did not know what to do with it.

As well as giving profiles of which staff are in post, Wasp can provide information such as the number of staff expected to retire or leave within a certain time period. This helps managers identify where they need to focus to create the workforce they want in the future.

The programme can be used to plan up to five years in advance.

Amanda says the tool was well received at board level but was too complex for the needs of frontline managers. The solution was the creation of a smaller scale 'baby-Wasp'. By linking the programme to AfC bandings, managers could also see the financial implications of workforce changes.

'By seeing whole workforce profiles, managers could see where skills could be used best,' adds Amanda.

'Trusts tend to have someone doing planning in one room and policy in another but this brings them together by allowing decisions to be made on the evidence, by systematically allowing you to plan and assess.'

The tools will be rolled out across other sites in Dorset and Somerset, then across the rest of the South West.

Tony hopes to make a presentation to the NHS Employers national workforce planning group later this year and Skills for Health has also talked to the SHA about linking the work with its own competency planning programmes.

For more information, visit www.goodmanagement-hsj.co.uk/workforce