Comment

Nurses need to professionalise workforce planning as one of the urgent goals for the NHS MBA

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has called for a new MBA for senior nursing staff, yet the declining numbers of staff is at its highest yet. 

England's health secretary Jeremy Hunt has called for a NHS MBA for senior clinicians (Hunt 2016), yet there was no mention of the focus for this MBA and what exactly it should aim to achieve over what is already offered. We already have numerous leadership programmes for all professional staff, but we are still facing one of the most dramatic stages of decline in the numbers in the health workforce than at any time before.

One in three nurses are aged over 50, and 9% of all nursing and 7% of doctor vacancies remain unfilled in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, with no hope that they will be filled anytime soon (Hughes and Clarke 2016). In the UK, there will be insufficient nurses, doctors and other professionals working in the

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England's health secretary Jeremy Hunt has called for a NHS MBA for senior clinicians (Hunt 2016), yet there was no mention of the focus for this MBA and what exactly it should aim to achieve over what is already offered. We already have numerous leadership programmes for all professional staff, but we are still facing one of the most dramatic stages of decline in the numbers in the health workforce than at any time before.


Meeting healthcare demands in the UK is putting increasing pressure on the NHS workforce
Picture: iStock

One in three nurses are aged over 50, and 9% of all nursing and 7% of doctor vacancies remain unfilled in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, with no hope that they will be filled anytime soon (Hughes and Clarke 2016). In the UK, there will be insufficient nurses, doctors and other professionals working in the NHS to meet the continued increase in healthcare demand, that is reaching a ‘dangerously high level’ (Campbell 2016).

Matching demands

A lack of a workforce plan is the ‘biggest internal threat’ to the sustainability of the NHS (Carding 2017). A workforce plan must match population demand closely and to create new and innovative roles for the future delivery of health care.

Many have observed that in the NHS we are woefully behind realising what is needed for the future workforce, with inconsistent gaps in workforce development, for example in hospitals, mental health, community and learning disability nursing and emergency care.

Such gaps in the system have created an over-reliance on quick fix solutions while agency staff are employed with high costs being incurred (Addicott et al 2015).

As a profession our strength is in our work with our patients, we have a history of co-production and joint learning with them and we pride ourselves with having creative and dynamic skills to communicate with patients, service users and their carers. It is time for us to bring workforce planning into the work of the professions, as this is long overdue and desperately needed, to inform a national strategy and implementation plan to support the fast-growing assistant health workforce.

'Hybrid' roles

Assistant workforce roles have to be supervised and taught their trade by senior health professionals. It is the professions who need to research the demand for future skills and explore how competencies will cross over professional’s ‘scope of practice’ to create new ‘hybrid’ roles.

We need our top nurse leaders to be studying alongside our doctors, therapists, managers and other senior professionals, to develop a truly collaborative multidisciplinary approach to improvement in the NHS. We know we need to close the manager versus clinician gap, so let’s bring the NHS MBA to the workplace, to each NHS trust to create their own NHS MBA that relates to their specific workforce and strategic needs.

We need a new type of leadership for the future, leadership defined as practice and leadership as collaborative to drive our future NHS. Nurses are ready for the MBA, so let’s bring it on.

References

About the authors 

Jill Aylott and Lesley Montisci work for the International Academy of Medical Leadership www.iamedicalleadership.com and www.aceppe.co.uk   

 

 

 

 

 

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