Framework to support right mix of health staff

A Framework to support the recruitment and retention of the right mix of staff across the health and social care system and build a sustainable, resilient workforce for the future has been launched.

The National Strategic Framework for Health and Social Care Workforce Planning was launched at the opening ceremony of the Global Forum for Human Resources for Health, which was attended by 1,000 policy-makers and researchers from around the world.

Speaking at the launch, Health Minister, Simon Harris said; “This new Framework will support an approach to workforce planning that will enable us to recruit and retain the right mix of health workers, across the health system. With a growing and ageing population this approach is essential if we are to meet the planned and projected need.

“The new Framework was developed by a Cross-Sectoral Steering Group, led by my Department and including key Government Departments and agencies in the health, education and children’s sectors, in addition to health workforce researchers and academics. A full public consultation process was carried out over the summer period and the framework was finalised taking stakeholder feedback into account. I want to thank all those involved for this very important piece of work.

A HSE National Workforce Planning Unit will report on framework implementation and lead on strategic workforce planning in the health sector.

“The objective of the Framework is to identify, agree and implement appropriate solutions to health workforce challenges – either within the health sector or inter-sectorally with education and other partners.

“The Framework will be implemented over a number of years, with an action plan for the first 18 months, which focuses on the early actions we need to take to build health workforce planning capacity in the health sector, and enhance engagement between the health and education sectors.”

A Five Step iterative approach to strategic workforce planning is proposed:

  • Step 1 commences with analysis of both the external and internal environment, including national policies/strategies and current/future health needs.
  • Step 2 focuses on the assessment of workforce demand and forecast of workforce supply, incorporates employment planning/monitoring, workforce intelligence, planning and modelling, and forecasting activities. On the supply side attention should be paid to data on production, attrition, entries and exits, and existing workforce characteristics including age and gender profiles.
  • Step 3 involves the identification of appropriate local and national HR solutions, and sectoral and cross-sectoral policy solutions. These might include education and training, immigration policies, employee engagement, career pathways, succession planning etc.
  • Step 4 focuses on planning and implementing the solutions that have been identified and agreed.
  • Given the iterative nature of the process, Step 5 involves monitoring and evaluation of both implementation and HR outcomes in order to inform future workforce planning cycles and solutions.

Structures and Governance Arrangements for Strategic Workforce Planning

In order to enable application of the Five Step Approach in the health sector and cross-sectorally, four levels of structures and governance arrangements are proposed.
The proposed structures are:

  • A Cross Departmental Group, chaired by the Department of Health and including the Departments of Education and Skills, Public Expenditure and Reform, Children and Youth Affairs, Business Enterprise and Innovation and Justice and Equality, which will oversee framework implementation and prioritise/approve cross-sectoral workforce planning projects.
  • A joint Department of Health/HSE/Tusla Strategic Workforce Planning Group, which will have sectoral oversight responsibility for framework implementation and will prioritise/approve workforce planning projects within the health/children sectors.
  • A HSE National Workforce Planning Unit, which will report on framework implementation and lead on strategic workforce planning in the health sector.
    Local level workforce planning, where 1 and 3 year workforce plans will be prepared and short-term workforce gaps identified.

The early focus will be on initial implementation for the Q4 2017 to Q1 2019 period. Key action areas include:

• Establishment of governance and framework oversight arrangements.
• Resourcing the HSE Workforce Planning Unit.
• Building effective communications and engagement strategies.
• Establishing protocols for engagement between the health and education sectors.
• Building the evidence base.

It is proposed that the Cross Departmental Group will report to the Minister for Health on an annual basis regarding progress in implementing the framework. A mechanism for periodic review of the relevance and effectiveness of the framework is also proposed.