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Case Study – Berkshire West Integrated Care Partnership

Using the Six Steps Methodology to validate and give confidence to Berkshire West Integrated Care Partnership’s system-level workforce plan

Berkshire West Integrated Care System (BWICS) approached Skills for Health as one of the pioneers of the Six Steps Methodology to look at their strategic workforce priorities to make sure they were fit for the future and all elements had been fully considered prior to their evolvement into its system-level workforce plan. The project required us:

  1. To introduce the Skills for Health Six Steps Methodology for workforce planning to teams from a variety of settings and pathways across the BWICS
  2. To consider adoption of Six Steps to provide standardisation for workforce planning across the system
  3. To identify and prioritise those workforce issues with the potential highest impact, that apply across the system.

The priority areas identified were how to:

  • Make the best use of workforce intelligence and think strategically about long-term workforce requirements
  • Unite employers from multiple organisations and professions
  • Ensure that the workforce strategies of partner organisations work together to promote the interests of service users and carers
  • Make choices about what needs to be done at a system level, versus an organisational level

How did we achieve what we’d set out to do?

The Six Steps Methodology was successfully introduced to key stakeholders within the Berkshire West Integrated Care System through a one-day workshop. The stakeholders agreed that the Six Steps might offer a way of standardising the approach to workforce planning and wanted it to be trialled with a range of people and patient pathways on current workforce issues across the system.

The next stage was to identify specific groups who were ready to address their workforce issues and introduce the Six Steps Methodology so they could use the framework to develop short to medium term workforce plans, addressing both current and future pathways and services.

Representatives from the different groups attended a plenary session to examine the progress made and decide if the Six Steps might be adopted as a standard methodology across the system, creating a common framework and language for workforce planning. The plenary session was also used to discuss shared priorities and to make recommendations for key system-wide workforce development areas.

The five areas were:

  1. Social Care
  2. Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (BHFT) focussing on:
    1. Community Nursing
    2. Community Mental Health
  3. Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust (RBFT) focussing on:
    1. Pharmacy
    2. Elderly Care
    3. Neonatal
    4. AMU
  4. Urgent and Emergency Care Pathway
  5. Cancer Services

The agendas were tailored to the needs of participants at the workshops, so they were able to experience each step in the context of their own current workforce issues. At each workshop, the template was used to structure the discussions for each of the Six Steps using the knowledge of the participants and data provided by the Workforce Planning and Intelligence team at Health Education England.

From each workshop, suggestions were produced for workforce development that participants identified as relevant system-wide. The suggestions were then prioritised, and further progress was reported at the Plenary workshop.


All groups identified different components that cluster around retention as a key issue when planning the workforce. If addressed in a system-wide coordinated way, this would have a considerable impact on retaining existing talent.

  • Valuing staff was a recurring theme with the suggestion that creative consistent rewards (including non-financial) might play a part
  • Consistency and parity within terms and conditions were an important mechanism to reduce inter-system competition for staff and help drive the move to an integrated workforce
  • A willingness to explore new ways of working and new roles was evident and would support transforming services to meet future needs
  • System-wide the cost of housing for workers within the health and social care was a recurring theme in the difficulty to recruit. People felt that recognising the resident population as a potential pool of future workforce may be a particularly important strategy.

All these factors are difficult to address at the level of the individual organisation but could be addressed at the system-level to stabilise workforce supply.

Agreeing on system-wide workforce priorities

Our project allowed for discussion and agreement on which of the system-wide priorities would have the greatest impact on supporting their workforce plans.

The plenary group decided that within the three broad headings of retention, the supply pool and recruitment, they could identify priority actions that might benefit from being taken forward across the ICS. The analysis was undertaken to consider what forces were in support of the three priorities and what system-wide mechanisms were working against them.


The project achieved its aim of bringing a wide variety of stakeholders together to work collaboratively to address system-level workforce issues and provide a logical approach to workforce planning by utilising the Six Steps. Furthermore, the project demonstrated how our workforce planning methodology can support system-level workforce planning with a wide group of stakeholders and challenges.

“Skills for Health’s Six Step Methodology was selected due to its accessibility and credibility within health and social care. Embedding the model facilitated a proof of concept for our collaborative approach to workforce planning and has enabled us to identify priority areas as an Integrated Care Partnership (ICP) which will feed into the wider BOB ICS ‘People’s Plan’ workforce strategy.”

Maggie Neale, ICS Workforce Manager, NHS Berkshire West CCG