When making a change in a system as complex as UK health service (whether a single department, or a whole region), getting the resources right both in terms of investment and in workforce can be quite a challenge. Moreover there can be more than one solution, for example more lower cost staff or fewer higher-cost.
Tools and Techniques
Computer simulation is one whole set of tools we use to understand the sensitivities and the potential impact on patient experience, whole system and other parts of the patient pathway and health and care economy, and the needs for new build, recruitment, education and so on.
Examples of tools used include:
MS Excel dynamic simulation models as used for Economic and Workforce modelling
MS Excel staff profile patterns as used for acute and mental health staffing
process flow and activity flow using Care Pathway Simulator (CPS) and Simul8
But there are many others.
Workforce Planning is all too often considered a simple matter of allocating people into deck chairs. I use the metaphor advisedly - an organisation that takes this limited view will sink as surely as the Titanic did.
Workforce planning is more akin to designing the workforce you really need. It needs to take into account the main outcomes for NHS,
quality outcomes for patients in clinical and health terms
patient experience (especially important under Payment by Results, where patients may choose to go somewhere else; but important anyway as attitude can often determine recovery rate)
effective use of resources - more noticeable now that we know resources won't go on increasing as fast
impact on staff. Without staff there is no health service
Therefore we also facilitate design, planning, implementation and reporting workshops to engage with the staff and design from the bottom up, helping the staff themselves to understand the constraints and targets and to take ownership.
With NHS staff around 1 million in England, a further 1 million engaged in delivering social care and probably 2.5million carers, workforce design and workforce planning are ever more important. With healthcare costs climbing above 8% of GDP, and forecasts of an ever more demanding population, we have to change the way we do things.
With NHS Modernisation Agency's Changing Workforce Programme (CWP) I assisted with implementing many of the practitioners who would improve patient care. My role was to help teams set outcomes, align their design accordingly, and monitor and report along the way. For some it was a great motivator; the others didn't deliver anything.
With Skills for Health I compiled compendia of New Ways of Working (NWW) projects and workforce planning tools, and these can be obtained from this web page. A few have been incorporated into the NWW web site
Much needs to be done.
The recent McKinsey report suggests cuts of 10% of staffing; but it needn't be you, and it needn't be your organisation.
We'll help you engage teams and staff to make the necessary changes to be the exception, the one that survives.