Health worker in PPE visor

Six areas of change identified for a more flexible NHS workforce

NHS Providers have outlined their key areas of change as part of a newly-published report, investigating new and innovative ways of working which have emerged out of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The report, called Workforce flexibility in the NHS: Utilising Covid innovations, focuses in on the ways in which trusts and frontline staff have adopted new approaches to respond to the pressures of the pandemic.

The outbreak of Covid-19 presented one of the biggest health challenges ever faced by the health service, placing unprecedented levels of demand on services, equipment and staff.

Trusts across the country responded to the pressures through rapid innovation and change.

NHS Providers’ new report highlights the workforce changes which have made the greatest impact and made recommendations on key areas to ensure the NHS is able to cope in the long run.

As the service faces a second wave of Covid-19 infections and hospitalisations, while simultaneously managing backlogs and seasonal pressures, it is essential the NHS can act swiftly and implement key points of learning from the initial Covid peak.

The six key areas of change recommended in the report were:

  1. Staff wellbeing
  2. Flexibility in staff deployment
  3. Cross-organisational working and regulation
  4. Technology
  5. Making use of new roles
  6. Funding

Speaking on the launch of the report, NHS Providers Deputy Chief Executive Saffron Cordery said: “It is truly heartening and impressive to see the speed at which workforce innovations and flexibilities have been implemented in the NHS since the outbreak of Covid-19.

“Our new report urges that these changes be quickly codified into policy and practice, to ensure that valuable improvements secured in the first peak of Covid-19 are not lost.

“We know that staff are the beating heart of the NHS, so we must do our best to make sure they are able to do their jobs, supporting their mental and physical wellbeing and protecting them from burnout.

“This report highlights the work carried out in response to the disproportionate impact of the virus on Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people, including those working in health and care settings. National and local initiatives to address racial inequality in the NHS must empower and protect BAME people without prescribing “one size fits all” solutions or putting the onus of change on BAME staff.

“Although it has been inspiring to see the strength and determination of staff during a difficult first wave of the pandemic, funding to ensure the recruitment and retention of NHS staff has never been more vital.

“Covid-19 has forced the pace of change in workforce flexibility. We need to capture and consolidate successful innovation to deal with pressures posed by the virus, and the long-term challenges faced by the NHS.”

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