Workforce: the biggest issue facing the health and social care sector

At the end of June we had a high energy, passionate discussion about the workforce challenges facing the NHS and social care.   

We were joined by three speakers: Caroline Clarke, Group Chief Executive of the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, Millie Bannerjee, Chair – South West London ICS and Murray Ellender, CEO and Co-Founder of eConsult Health. The event was supported by Saxton Bampfylde.

The conversation was wide ranging – some high level messages were:

1. There is a global shortage of healthcare personnel. While we can continue to train more staff and seek to recruit more people – we also need to focus far more attention to improving staff experience and to redesign/reforming ways of work.

2. Staff experience in the health and care sector is often poor. There is an urgent need to improve staff wellbeing, provide more flexible working patterns, put in place more welcoming induction programmes, provide robust feedback and development and, crucially, focus on inclusion, ensuring all staff feel supported and valued. Inclusion has almost become an overused word but being able to bring one’s real self to work, having strong support for job entry, and symbols and signals from leadership are all so important.

3. There are multiple opportunities, many underpinned by adopting digital technologies, to redesign care delivery to enable a better work experience for staff – and provide significantly better quality of care, access to care and efficiency of care delivery. But capturing these opportunities requires more flexible contracts, a change in approach to people leadership and a change in mindset from the Royal Colleges and regulators.   

4. Workforce planning is critical but can’t happen in isolation – we need more integrated planning approaches (linking care pathway redesign to workforce requirements to estates and finances) and a step change in capabilities for business planning.

Thank you to Mills & Reeve for kindly hosting this event.