National research confirms COVID-19 lasting impact on NHS, health & care workforce

Image: National research confirms COVID-19 lasting impact

By Andrew Lovegrove | 2 September 2020

Andrew Lovegrove, Senior Workforce Development Consultant, Skills for Health comments on our COVID-19 Insights: Impact on workforce skills report released today. As an expert in workforce planning and skills development, he looks at some of the crucial challenges highlighted in the research and how organisations can begin to develop the practical solutions needed moving forward:

This new report by our leading academic Research & Evaluation team confirms that the pandemic has had wider than expected consequences on our NHS and health and care workforce which will continue to significantly influence service delivery for some time to come.

This vital national research is based on the Covid-19 Workforce Survey, which was conducted in June 2020, and received a substantial 2950 responses from those working across our NHS, and wider health and care services. The findings, analysed by our Senior Researcher Sabina Enback, clearly show that following three months of extreme change in our sector, organisations suffered severe skills loss. The report highlights the critical issues which contributed to this, with the aim of supporting our sector to rebuild and reset for a sustainable future, both now and in the long-term.

Jon Parry, Head of Research and Evaluation, Skills for Health said: “This report is the first step in our efforts to provide intelligence and support which will help guide a path to recovery in terms of service delivery, and most importantly, ensure that employee well-being is at the forefront of future ways of working.”

Nearly a quarter say skills will be lost due to COVID-19.

A variety of reasons were identified as to why organisations are losing skills from their workforce as a result of the pandemic, including staff retiring, or resigning early due to burnout, staff illness, and in some cases sadly death of a staff member. Some staff members have also had to self-isolate or stay at home to care for family members suffering from coronavirus. This has meant that valuable skills have been lost altogether or taken out of service for an extended period.

The immediate fallout from COVID-19 is going to be with us for a long time. We need to think differently; not just about how we deliver our services but crucially who is going to provide them and in what way.’

Furthermore, organisational change and ways of working can be tangibly linked to skills needs in the future, with nearly 100% of respondents stating that infection prevention and control, as well as conveying information effectively, will be a key future skill.

Over 95% thought that dealing with out of the ordinary situations and the appropriate use of equipment, facilities, and materials would be crucial for staff going forward.

Sustainable change is not just about fixing things in the short-term; flexible working (such as home-working) brings its own set of challenges. We need to assess the negatives as well as the positives of these issues; work out ‘what’s worked and what hasn’t?’ Only when we know this can we make more impact long-term changes.’’

The issues uncovered in the report understandably correlate to the key focuses outlined in the recently published NHS People Plan. Now, we want to ensure that paired with this research, workforce planning and development teams can implement the practical, evidence-based measures to support the recovery and sustainable growth of a highly skilled workforce for the future, that meets the ambitions set out in front of them.

We’ve long advocated that workforce planning and development is a vital activity of any health organisation. COVID-19 has highlighted that we’ll ‘fail’ without adequate people planning.

Andrew Lovegrove is a Senior Consultant here at Skills for Health, and as a former Nurse, has worked in and with the healthcare sector for over 20 years. As a specialist in strategic workforce planning and the Six Step Methodology, Andrew has helped hundreds of NHS and healthcare employers improve patient care through effective workforce development programmes. Andrew regularly speaks at national healthcare events to support the sector and help build a better healthcare service for the future.

Please get in touch today to find out how Andrew, and our team of experts in workforce and skills development can support you and you organisation to develop your future workforce.


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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