Supporting a Workforce Planning Approach for Primary Care Clusters in Wales

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By Skills for Health | 19 November 2021

Workforce planning experts from Skills for Health, the UK’s Sector Skills Council and established partner for healthcare organisations wishing to develop workforce improvement initiatives, have developed a series of online video resources detailing the process for undertaking a workforce planning approach for Primary Care Clusters in Wales.

The project was commissioned by Health Education & Improvement Wales (HEIW) and NHS Wales as part of the “Transforming the Workforce for a Healthier Wales” and is in response to the country’s ambition to increase their capability and capacity in healthcare workforce planning including in primary care and specifically in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the accelerated change in remote working practices and the need for a multi-disciplinary skills approach.

The videos are broken down into a series of three user-friendly segments that help explain the journey for those looking to develop a primary care workforce plan. The information and guidance provided is based on the Skills for Health Six Steps methodology to integrated workforce planning, a proven and trusted planning approach that ensures you have a workforce of the right size with the right skills and competencies but tailored to the distinct characteristics of primary care.

Whilst the context and background of the content is most applicable to primary care clusters in Wales, many of the key takeaway messages, observations, hints, tips, and experiences shared by the presenters can equally be applied to primary care networks in England and on a wider UK level.

As a series, the video workshops cover the key 12 points of developing a workforce plan by incorporating the stages involved under 4 principal questions:

  1. How do we get started?
  2. Where are we now?
  3. Where do we need to be?
  4. How do we get there?

The first video provides an explanation of the origins of getting started with a workforce plan to include its purpose, scope, key drivers and identifying the problems that need solving whether that might be an ever-widening gap in the skills and knowledge of primary care staff, recruitment and retention challenges, changing healthcare demands from the local population or a mix of factors.

The second video delivers clarity and understanding to help healthcare organisations analyse their current position, creating baselines to understanding challenges and changes that need to be addressed by the workforce plan to include current workforce and stakeholder analysis, local population demand and health needs, service demands and trends with tips and insights provided on reputable information sources and data collection parameters.

The final video looks at exploring workforce supply and development routes to include utilising and upskilling different roles, deployment and redeployment of staff, embracing new technology and ways of working, and succession planning with an understanding of the gaps that might exist in skills, roles and numbers. This leads into a final plan of action whereby much of the setting and formulation of the plan is put into motion.

Dawn Probert, Senior Consultant at Skills for Health, and one of the presenters of the primary care workforce planning videos explains: “Workforce planning is essentially about getting the right people at the right time at the right place at the right cost. It is about delivering the best services for our local communities, and you need the right staffing in place to achieve that aim.  Workforce Planning is about how we go about that task with a view to creating a sustainable workforce within the usual budget and resource constraints healthcare organisations are typically under, which is further complicated by the ever-evolving healthcare needs of the general population.”

Andrew Lovegrove, Senior Consultant at Skills for Health who contributed to the workshop delivery adds: “Those often directly impacted by aspects of primary care workforce planning can have ready-made presumptions and pre-populated thoughts, many of which are naturally negative.  By increasing the scope of information, advice and resources that can be freely accessed across a range of partner platforms, it can support the understanding and true value of undertaking a workforce planning approach.”

In addition to the video resources, Skills for Health and HEIW have collaborated to develop a range of workforce planning tools to include primary care workforce planning principles, templates, guidance documents and a workforce data analyst resource that can support clusters to bring together their own internal records to help build a robust workforce profile.

For further information about the resources available and to access the workforce planning videos visit the HIEW website at https://heiw.nhs.wales/workforce/workforce-planning-and-information/primary-care-cluster-workforce-planning

About Skills for Health

Skills for Health is a not-for-profit organisation committed to the development of an improved and sustainable healthcare workforce across the UK. Established in 2002 as the Sector Skills Council for Health for the UK health sector, it is the authoritative voice on workforce skills issues and offers proven solutions and tools, with the expertise and experience to use them effectively. Visit www.skillsforhealth.org.uk

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