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Mark Radford

Radford: Make the most of existing NHS staff

Tue 29 Nov 2016

MiP Conference 2016: Professor Mark Radford from NHS Improvement led a workshop on the many workforce challenges likely to face managers in the NHS next year.

Professor Radford insisted NHS Improvement understood the problems facing frontline staff.

“The next two quarters are going to be tough,” he said. “The money is really tight and that is creating pressure through the whole system. Keeping our focus as a system on the patients is absolutely fundamental.”

The NHS faced a real challenge in delivering against targets while maintaining service quality, Radford said. NHS Improvement was there to support organisations with this, but also to look at the use of resources, leadership in trusts and improvement methodologies.

He said that Brexit was a “real challenge” which would affect some parts of the country more than others, because they had more staff from other EU countries. But he suggested employers needed to focus on retention as well as recruitment by looking after staff already working in the NHS. Challenged organisations often had problems retaining staff as well as recruiting them.

Radford acknowledged the disquiet in the nursing community about the introduction of nursing associates. Although the issue was polarising, he said it offered an opportunity to bring more people into care work. “We do need new people in the market but I recognise some of the challenges this may bring.”

He also questioned whether staff were always working at the top of their capabilities.

“Sometimes we don’t use the skills of the current workforce very well,” he said. At the other end of the scale, he recognised the need to clarify the role of advanced practitioners.

NHS Improvement was also involved in developing of guidance for trusts on safe staffing.

“In some cases there isn’t an evidence base – my experience of working with mental health and learning disability nursing is that there is a dearth of evidence,’ he said. In other areas, there was existing guidance from NICE. ‘Where we have a NICE evidence base, we will use it,’ he added.

Radford said the ‘’model hospital” described in the Carter Review was a way of helping people to understand what good looks like in efficiency terms. Dashboards were also being used to give trusts information about how they compared with their peers and to drill down to get more detailed information.

Radford admitted that work arising from the Carter review had been very focused on acute trusts, but there were plans to support community and mental health trusts in the future. E-rostering is a key part of this, but Radford stressed the need for fairness in shift allocation – something which could be included in e-rostering programmes.

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