As health and care changes and our population grows and is living for longer, we need to work in new and different ways.
There are national staff shortages in some areas making it difficult to recruit GPs, nurses, midwives, and therapy staff. In south east London 23% of GPs and 33% of nurses are aged over 55 and due to retire in the next decade, with significant implications for us.
Our workforce strategy aims to review and redesign our workforce to help address these challenges and deliver new models of care and ways of working. We want to make the best use of the staff we have, working to support them and develop careers that make south east London a good place to work.
Over time, some new roles will develop and people will need to work differently to better meet the needs of our residents.
We are already working on initiatives to offer the non-clinical workforce the chance to learn and apply new skills. This will give them access to clearer and more structured opportunities for career development across the NHS and wider care system.
With their new skills, the non-clinical workforce should be able to access new or different roles whilst also being able to make a greater difference to patients and carers; helping doctors and nurses cope better with their workloads; and hopefully make them feel valued and supported in developing their own careers.
For instance, we are working to develop a recognised ‘care navigator’ role for people working in non-clinical roles in the community. People doing these jobs can help identify what services might be helpful for local people to access or act in a co-ordinating role, contacting other organisations and arranging for practical help where necessary.
We have identified the core skills required to work effectively in these types of role. We are developing and testing training and apprenticeship programmes to support local development. We want our non-clinical staff to be able to make a greater difference to patients and carers; help doctors and nurses cope better with their workloads; and feel valued and supported in developing their own careers.
Working differently together
As we develop new ways of working – for instance through local care networks and new care models – we will need staff from different organisations to work in new settings, in different ways and in multi-disciplinary teams. We are working across local organisations and with Health Education England (London) to make sure that we have the training in place to develop our staff and support them to work differently and effectively for the benefits of patients and carers.
The work we are doing through Our Healthier South East London will only be successful if we have the right staff with the right skills in place, now and into the future.
Primary Care Navigators
The Primary Care navigator role in south London is not necessarily a position or new occupation as such. Our programme is focused on developing the skills and knowledge of our ‘front-line’ reception and administrative staff, to help coordinate and guide patients and carers around complex services and free up the valuable time of GPs, practice nurses and other clinical staff so that they can focus more on direct patient care.
To achieve this, we have developed and are testing new competencies for our non-clinical workforce that also helps empower and enable career progression for the staff we already employ.