Duties and functions

The Ward Round: “One Workforce” – The Challenging ICS To-Do List | Expert briefing

The deadline for all integrated care systems to become statutory bodies is approaching and the NHS is stepping up the pace to meet it; Recruitment kicked off this week for ICS ’42 CEOs and additional guidance has been released on the workforce goals the systems should focus on.

Although getting everything on time is going to be difficult – as discussed in detail in this recent HSJ Health Check Episode – this is an opportunity for systems to recruit their leaders and boards from scratch and shape the organization to meet the needs of their people.

In the new NHS England Workforce Guide, which complements the ICS design framework released earlier this summer, it says NHS leaders will need to work with ICS partners to deliver ’10 people functions based on results from April 2022 ”.

The “functions of people” of the ICS – a robotic-sounding phrase referring to the activities related to the workforce it must provide – described in this document are ambitious; leaders ensuring that their organizations “capitalize on their role as anchor institutions” in the creation of a “dynamic local labor market” and “one workforce” through the ICS. For systems without a history of collaboration, the latter could be particularly tricky.

The Workforce’s 10 Ambitions are linked to the People Plan and People’s Promise, with the first-ever ‘results-based function’ using systems to ensure its people are supported in their own right. be physical and mental, enabling them to provide “high quality, compassionate patient care”.

Despite this encouragement, could the speed at which this work needs to be done threaten the ability of systems to put the workforce at the heart of their work?

One of the most interesting aspects of the guide is the requirement that systems “use the intelligence function of ICS” to understand how the workforce and skill mix are likely to change in response to future needs. health of the population.

Along with this, systems should also provide data to regional and national workforce teams to support workforce planning and agree on a system-wide approach to analyze this data. .

The links between this and the work already done by the trusts to report labor shortages are not yet clear and questions also remain as to how this data will be published. Surely it is time for the secrecy surrounding NHS workforce planning to end.

Practice what he preaches

It is of course important that systems create healthy cultures in which to work; and if they have done so successfully, it will become more evident after the release of the results of their first survey of NHS staff.

In this regard, the results of the staff survey, in particular the staff experience and engagement branch within the NHSE People Directorate, suggest that more needs to be done to show example and improve the work practices and culture at the center.

From the results, as seen by HSJ, and collected in October 2020, 65% of the staff of the sub-directorate declared that they came to work when they did not feel well enough to perform their tasks and more than half declared that they suffered from stress at work. Overall, management scored 6 out of 10 for health and wellness.

Although this is only a temperature check of a small group of around 50 people, it gives quite an interesting insight into a group set up to transform the working conditions of NHS staff in all of England.

Michael West, professor of work and organizational psychology at Lancaster University and a senior visiting scholar at the King’s Fund, said Around the room, NHSE / I should “ideally be a model for what it advocates for trusts across the country.”

“More fundamentally, if NHS England and NHS Improvement don’t have a healthy and inclusive culture, they are less able to fulfill their goal of supporting trusts,” Professor West said.

“I think what needs to be done is for NHSE / I to use the culture transformation agenda they advocate for trusts and implement it in a holistic and sustainable way. [itself],” he said.

NHS England is making it clear that a lot is expected of ICS when it comes to fostering a healthy culture and strong leadership – but they also need to ensure that all parts of the national team put this into practice as well .

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