HSE to establish workforce planning unit

A dedicated Workforce Planning Unit is to be established within the HSE HR Directorate, in an effort to ensure an integrated multi-disciplinary approach to Health Workforce Planning that can meet the needs of the health and social care sector for the future, write Mary McCarthy and Maureen Browne.

Mary McCarthy
Mary McCarthy

The approach to Workforce Planning will be aligned to the requirements of the Hospital Groups and Community Healthcare Organisations, being cognisant also of alignment to the on-going work of the Programme for Health Service Improvement.

The People Strategy is an enabler for the HSE Corporate Plan 2015 -2018. Corporate Plan Goal #4 – Engage, develop and value our workforce to deliver the best possible care and services to the people who depend upon them.

The Current Challenges are:

  • Capacity to recruit and retain a highly-skilled and qualified medical and clinical workforce, particularly in high-demand areas and specialties
  • Management of the scale of reform and change required to support new evolving models of service delivery and drive innovation
  • Capacity and resources to continue to develop and involve staff in driving change and improving quality and safety and the culture of the organisation
  • Limitations of clinical, business information, financial and HR systems
  • Capacity to exercise effective control over pay and staff numbers in the context of safety and quality, regulatory, volume and practice-driven pressures.

Integrated Workforce Planning

Priority 4 of the Health Services People Strategy aims to ensure a comprehensive workplace plan is in place based on current and predicted service needs, evidence informed clinical pathways and staff deployment. To give effect to Priority 4, the HR Division is committed to supporting and influencing the development and implementation of a national integrated strategic framework for health workforce planning. The explicit objective is to recruit and retain the right mix of staff and support operational workforce planning at service delivery level.

National HR facilitated a workshop in September, to take stock of progress regarding the WFP agenda, to present a brief overview of the work already underway, discuss priorities, issues and capture key messages to help inform our future approach to Health Workforce Planning (HWFP). The Workshop was well attended, with representatives from all areas across the HSE funded organisations. It afforded an opportunity to showcase innovative initiatives to date, discuss key issues and to establish networks that are expected to prove beneficial in going forward.

Issues Identified included:

  1. Insufficient numbers and/or skill bases at local and organisational level to perform HWFP in a timely effective way. It was suggested this could be overcome if standardised structures for communication such as using templates, Local Implementation Groups (with key stakeholders) etc. are used and service managers are supported with the availability of on-line training and tools.
  1. Variation in methodology and approach adopted by Groups and/or across settings. This, it was felt, could be overcome by adopting (as much as possible) a single standardised methodology and approach for all Groups and across all settings which would also enable cross comparison be made.
  1. Lack of awareness of the work going on in other parts of the Organisation. This, it is believed could be overcome for HWFP by building a communication network and Knowledge Management System (as part of the Office of the CIO’s overall system). Further HWFP Workshops will also be held in order to progress.

Measuring success:

To serve healthcare business and clinical priorities, HR needs to ensure:

  • Supply of staff who are technically competent and responsive to service needs
  • Workforce Plan positioned to support CHOs, Hospital Groups, PCRS, NAS and the delivery system overall
  • Transition to more facilitative, supportive, developmental and enabling approach to recruitment and retention.
  • Take up a Business Partnering role at all levels
  • Work in partnership with service managers to add value
    and enhance people capability

The Workforce Planning Unit is aimed at providing the direction to deliver on this ambition.