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Enhancing efficiency and sustainability with a diagnostic workforce strategy

Enhancing efficiency and sustainability with a diagnostic workforce strategy

Home » Case studies » Enhancing efficiency and sustainability with a diagnostic workforce strategy

Through strategic collaboration and comprehensive planning, we enhanced the efficiency and sustainability of the diagnostic workforce within an integrated care system (ICS) addressing critical workforce gaps and ensuring future readiness. Our diagnostic workforce strategy has provided clarity on current workforce statuses, projected future workforce needs, and a detailed action plan aimed at achieving a sustainable diagnostic workforce for the future.

Background

To better understand the current NHS diagnostic workforce, model future workforce demand, and address any supply/demand gaps, the integrated care system sought leadership to develop an ICS diagnostic workforce strategy.

NHS Midlands and Lancashire were tasked with devising this strategy to detail the existing workforce, key metrics, the impact of new service developments such as community diagnostic centres (CDCs), and to highlight key workforce risks and challenges.

A key deliverable for the Diagnostic Delivery and Improvement Board within the ICS was that the strategy needed to:

– Provide an overview of the current workforce and key metrics.

– Include the 2023/24 operational diagnostic workforce plan data.

– Understand CDC workforce demand and supply.

– Model workforce scenarios based on national discourse.

– Present a clear, prioritised action plan to address diagnostic workforce risks aligned with the ICS workforce strategy and priorities.

Action

Our Workforce Planning and Transformation team worked collaboratively with the ICS and NHS trusts to form a diagnostic workforce group. This group was responsible for overseeing the strategy’s development and ensuring effective engagement with all partners, reporting to the diagnostic board.

The engagement process involved discussions with clinical, operational, and workforce leads to identify key workforce actions, risks, issues, and the demands of the integrated care board for the four diagnostic pillars: endoscopy, imaging, labs, and physiological sciences, as well as the implications of CDC plans.

Workforce data was gathered from the ICB and the HEE ePortal, incorporating key metrics to assess the current workforce status and recent trends. The diagnostic workforce data from the 2023/2024 operational plan submission was highlighted, presenting critical areas for consideration and discussion.

We developed a scenario model based on national workforce trends and discussions to understand workforce needs. This ‘largest growth’ model demonstrated that, to meet the anticipated demand, up to an additional 115 whole-time equivalent staff members could be required beyond what was initially planned for in the operational strategy.

This highlighted a potentially significant gap between the current workforce planning and the projected future needs, underscoring the necessity for strategic recruitment and training initiatives to ensure future workforce supply to meet potential demand.

Impact

The ICS diagnostic workforce strategy was approved by the Diagnostic Delivery & Improvement Board in June 2023. The scenario model now serves as a foundation for discussions about the necessary workforce growth to maintain a sustainable diagnostic workforce. Additional scenario models may be developed to further inform strategic planning.

A business case is being prepared to secure funding for a dedicated Cancer and Diagnostic Workforce Lead within the ICB. This role will be crucial for implementing the recommendations from the diagnostic workforce strategy.

Key actions have been prioritised across several themes, divided into collaborative initiatives at the ICS level and specific tasks for individual employers:

1. Leadership and culture

2. Recruitment and retention

3. Education and supply

4. Workforce planning

The strategy outlines how the ICS diagnostic workforce strategy aligns with and is supported by existing diagnostic and workforce governance structures.

The ICS diagnostic workforce strategy has provided clarity on the current workforce status, projected future workforce needs, and a detailed action plan aimed at achieving a sustainable diagnostic workforce for the future.

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