Integration, Collaboration, Transformation: Our consultants address 3 key questions

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By Skills for Health | 20 July 2021

The Health and Care Bill 2021 which continues to be discussed in Parliament set forth several key points to promote integration between health and care. The bill acknowledges the ‘unprecedented pressures’ facing our health and care sector due to the ongoing pandemic coupled with an ageing population with more complex needs and a ‘rapidly increasing elective care backlog’. Consequently, workforce planning and workforce transformation are at the forefront of conversations surrounding this bill to ensure that the NHS has the people it needs to provide high-quality care.

A transformational shift of this scale only happens when leadership is in place to enable it, alongside a culture of improvement and a desire to do things differently. For nearly two decades we at Skills for Health have actively supported the development and implementation of integrated systems for workforce management and patient care. Our workforce, leadership and organisational development experts continue to support Integrated Care Systems to reach their overarching goal of providing the highest quality care at both the local and national levels. The Skills for Health’s Six-Step Methodology to Integrated Workforce Planning has been widely used as a practical and proficient method for guaranteeing a scalable workforce with an appropriate skill mix.

There are still many unanswered questions surrounding The Health and Care Bill 2021. Andrew Lovegrove, our Senior Workforce Consultant and Toby Lindsay, Principal Consultant in Leadership, Management and Organisational Development recently met to discuss and address some of our burning questions around this new ‘duty to collaborate’ and how The Health and Care Bill will look in reality.

Why is workforce transformation so important?

Key reflections

Andrew Lovegrove: “Workforce transformation has a sense of being a ‘nice to do’ whereas actually, it is a critical ingredient of sustainability and sustainable services, whatever those services are moving forward.”

“Having worked in workforce development for many years now, it feels that now is the absolute critical moment where we need to engage with it, it is part of the day job, it doesn’t just sit in the margins of our practice, we have to embrace it moving forward.”

Toby Lindsay: “It is a strategic priority as opposed to a reactive nice to have. It is complex work that requires good quality strategic practice, scenario practice, taking into account all of the current complex variables.”

What are the biggest barriers to workforce transformation and conversely what are the enablers?

Key reflections

Andrew Lovegrove: “One of the challenges in workforce development and workforce transformation is to answer that simple question of ‘why’. Why are we doing this? Why are we embarking on this change and endeavour?”

“One of the key enablers of workforce transformation is when everyone can understand and answer that simple question of why are we doing this? What is the impact we are looking to achieve? What are the benefits we are trying to achieve for our citizens, communities, and population?”

“My experience tells me that if you take people with you on that journey, and you can identify the link to the service benefit, for me that is a key enabler of good workforce transformation because they are doing it in the round.”

“We assume workforce transformation begins and ends at the top, whereas actually, it is about liberating everybody across the system, across the health and social care economy. The people who have the answers are the people who are closest to those in receipt of the care and health intervention. Another enabler is to involve everybody but figure out who ‘everybody’ actually is and engage with them in a meaningful way.”

Toby Lindsay: “It’s not that people like or do not like change, people need meaning, people need to understand the meaning, and need to be engaged in that process. Very often you find that the communication of the ‘why’ is not high enough, or maybe not understood, or people are not allowed to contribute and feel like they are part of it. And even when you do all these things right, change is still a psychologically emotional experience that can make us feel vulnerable and uncertain.”

“This change process is often positioned with the individual, whereas it is about making a culture that is supported by senior leadership that understands that change needs a lot of attention and working through, and it will not be an easy linear path. Change in any form requires skill and time.”

What are the key ingredients when embarking on collaboration?

Key reflections

Toby Lindsay: People choose to work with people because there is a purpose that means it’s worthy, one of the most important things for people to work together successfully is trust and trust is not something you can just tell people to do. Where does ‘trust’ begin? Trust starts through a meaningful interpersonal connection. The research shows that great collaborative partnerships begin with the work needed to build effective personal connections.”

“The essential work of human connection, valuing difference and then building up shared trust that means we choose to collaborate and want to pull other people in…we then start to recognise that we are not diminished by this but enriched.”

Andrew Lovegrove: “The work that needs to be done to make that policy reality is going to require some very fundamental gear shifts across health and social care. It is quite seismic.”

“Colocation does not require collaboration. Bringing people together physically in a shared location will not create better collaborative working by default. A shared endeavour, shared purpose and shared benefit of bringing people to work together, at the moment is just a national policy, a goal. But, what does that mean in reality for the health and social care economy of area X, population Y, workforce Z.”

“Things will succeed and fail by how well-connected systems are across historical agencies and organisations, we have got to be solutions-focused and take some risks. We live in a risk-based world, it is about managing that risk with an eye on the future, to succeed on the endeavours we have articulated and identified that are necessary for us to make meaningful progress.”

Find out more about Integrated Care Systems:

Integrated Care Systems: FAQ

Understanding Integrated Care Systems in England

Integrated Care Workforce Solutions

Leading Integrated Systems of Care

How integrated care systems can enhance workforce collaboration and improve patient care

We are dedicated to supporting workforce development initiatives as part of the ICS agenda, and with a history in national policy and system-wide skills development, we can help you navigate the changing workforce demands across your ICS. Workforce and Leadership programmes are suited to enhance people and skills in Integrated Care Systems, improve workforce planning strategies and ultimately enable better patient care. Get in touch to discuss your integrated care workforce strategy and speak to one of our workforce experts.


Tam Whipp joins Skills for Health as a Technical Consultant 

Why the NHS Needs Workforce Planning More Than Ever 

Laura Schell appointed as Skills for Health Client Director 

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