Thinking differently about workforce, including having hybrid models of employment, where people work for both health and social care, can help deliver care closer to home
Workforce planning across an ICS is challenging, but good practice is already emerging. This will be vital to ensuring that the new systems have the capacity to meet growing challenges, including the treatment backlog – and making better use of digital is key.
Karen McDowell, chief operating officer at Surrey Heartlands ICS, described a closer to home model involving multi-disciplinary teams working together to keep patients with frailty out of hospital where possible. Shared care records are enablers for this and workforce planning, taking into account the whole system, is happening.
“We work with our partner organisations on how we change the way we manage the workforce across the whole system, and how we deliver,” she said. “I think there’s a lot of work to do, but we’re getting to the point where we can actually start to plan and monitor workforce across all parts of the organisation and how we can then utilise that in a better way across the system.”
Technology can help with workforce challenges, said Cisco’s Declan Hadley, including helping to support people to work at the top of licence by facilitating digital supervision, and also encouraging people to come back to the health service by enabling them to work in a way and place that suits them. “When we talk about digital solutions in terms of elective recovery, those solutions could be serviced in part by a flexible, agile workforce [because] we’ve put the technology in to encourage people to come back to the service.”
Thinking differently about workforce, including having hybrid models of employment, where people work for both health and social care, can help deliver care closer to home, said Madeleine Starr from Carers UK. She pointed to interesting international examples, including one in Estonia where families are supported to manage children with complex needs at home. “We’ve seen lots of proven models – I just wish we could see more roll-out and less exploration,” she said.
She called for a “leap of imagination” – and said the pandemic had shown that the NHS was capable of rapid digital transformation. “We’ve got all the tools in the toolbox. I do believe we’ve got a brilliant and committed workforce, we’ve got the technology in spades. It’s [about] the will to make it happen, and of course it’s resource too.”
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