Building our workforce for the future requires investment in staff, leadership development and seeking out talent at every level.

Professor Stephen Eames, Independent Chair for the Humber, Coast and Vale Health and Care Partnership

Research shows that big organisations, such as the NHS, like to promote the idea that employees are their biggest asset. Yet many are as unprepared for the challenge of finding, motivating and nurturing talent as they were a decade ago. Why?

It is largely because a deep-rooted conviction about people development and talent management requires significant long-term investment, often in a world where short-term performance is king.

The new NHS People Plan is aiming to buck this trend through investment in staff, leadership development and seeking out talent at every level and crucially seeing this as being the difference between success and failure in delivering 21st century health and care services.

The people plan has four main strands:

  • Make the NHS the best place to work by valuing, supporting, developing and investing in people.
  • Ensuring leadership at very level is compassionate and firmly focused on improvement and better care.
  • Taking urgent action on nursing shortages as well as other areas of shortage.
  • Develop a workforce to deliver 21st century care by growing the workforce but also creating new roles and different ways of working. These need to be ready and able to exploit the opportunities offered by technology and scientific innovation to transform care and release more time for care.

It’s therefore vital that people in leadership positions inspire, motivate and engage with staff in a different way if these aspirations are to be realised.

Local leaders will need to work together, across traditional boundaries, to ensure a consistent and well thought-out approach.

Furthermore, leadership skills and behaviours will be required across the whole workforce, not just in those who are recognised as leaders.

It will be important to ensure everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential and this requires organisations to have meaningful appraisal processes and personal development plans for every member of staff. It also means ensuring there are systems to identify career potential and development needs for all staff.

Targeting talent at all levels and in all sectors will be an essential ingredient. While the research shows that the top performing 20% of managers are twice as likely to improve operational productivity and delivery than the average performer, an elitist approach would rule out the valuable contributions of the capable, steady performers who make up the majority of any workforce. The emphasis should be on seeking out talent, wherever it is.

This more egalitarian approach requires a deep commitment from senior leaders to developing people and responding to their potential and cascading this through the ranks.

This is a much better foundation for all staff to deliver the dynamic patient and client-centred approach that the challenges of the future require.

Through the Humber, Coast and Vale Heath and Care Partnership, we are developing a comprehensive approach to meeting our workforce needs now and in the future.

As a Partnership we are working with key partners to make progress with closing some of these gaps by proactively investing in, nurturing, training and educating the current and new health and care workforce to provide flexibility and adaptability as well as and working together to attract new recruits to our area.

We are increasing the numbers being trained through our medical school, universities and colleges. For example, we recently secured the single largest increase in medical training places in the country so that, from this year, Hull and York Medical School will train 220 new doctors per year, compared with 130 in 2017.

We will continue to increase the training and deployment of new roles, including advanced clinical practitioners, physician
associates and trainee nurse associates, to work alongside our existing clinical and professional workforce.

Leo Stevens

Author Leo Stevens

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