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The Unsung Guide to NHS Workforce Planning – Why Demand and Capacity is SO Important

In a climate of escalating NHS workforce shortages, the call for innovative and efficient solutions has never been louder. Amid the ocean of information, there lies an overlooked resource – a succinct five minute video created by NHS England, titled ‘Why Demand and Capacity Planning is Important.’ Despite its modest viewership of just 22,000 over four years, this educational video holds transformative insights for anyone involved in workforce planning in the healthcare sector.

Every once in a while, we encounter a piece of content—a good book, an engaging podcast, an enlightening article, or an insightful video—that leaves us thinking, ‘Wow, that was on the money.’ The content is simple to understand, relatable, timely and quite frankly a message that needs to be heard. My only gripe is that the title should be, ‘Why Demand and Capacity Planning is So Important.’

Relying on a relatable metaphor of patients as bus passengers and providers as drivers, this video provides a fresh and insightful perspective on the dynamics of demand and capacity planning. It aligns seamlessly with the ethos of the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan 2023, underscoring the importance of efficient resource management to meet evolving patient needs.

The video candidly addresses the disjointed thinking contributing to today’s workforce capacity gaps, and then progresses to offer data-driven solutions focused on:

Visualising System-Wide Workforce Capacity vs. Patient Demand

Current methods of workforce planning often fail to account for fluctuating patient demand. The video demonstrates how a data-informed analysis can identify pressure points. By leveraging these insights, providers can better match staffing to actual needs, optimising the use of a limited workforce.

Fostering Deep Collaboration Across Departments

The video exposes how isolated decision-making currently hampers the coordination needed to maximise workforce capacity. By promoting the integration of clinical, operational, administrative, and financial leaders, it advocates for a collective approach to system-wide planning.

Coordinated Workforce Planning Across All Care Settings

The video emphasises the importance of broad-based workforce planning, noting that too often planning focuses solely on acute and emergency care. It encourages consideration of growing community and mental health demands within workforce strategy, advocating for a comprehensive approach to the entire care journey to ensure no sector is left behind.

In just five minutes, this video distils easily grasped models to inform more coordinated, responsive workforce planning. It goes beyond simply explaining demand and capacity as mere data exercises and portrays it as an essential strategy for visualising service performance, patient demand, and the effective allocation of resources.

The teachings of this video are especially pertinent in our current environment, characterised by significant NHS workforce challenges. It is indeed an invaluable resource that provides a blueprint for improving the way we plan, allocate resources, and ultimately, deliver healthcare.

While the video may have been overlooked, its message is undeniably powerful. It encourages a shift in mindset towards a more innovative, data-driven, and collaborative approach to workforce planning. Our current challenges demand it, and the future of NHS care depends on it.

Watch for yourself.

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Related Articles:

The NHS Long Term Workforce Plan 2023: A Comprehensive Strategy with Room for Further Consideration NHS Workforce Planning: Challenges and Strategic Approaches Quick Guide: Understanding the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan 2023