Investing in the NHS workforce – How Pharma can drive meaningful joint working

By guest blogger Emma Clayton, Managing Director at Grey Bear Consultancy 

We all have a vested interest in making sure the NHS is fit for the future, and I believe one very important way is by empowering the workforce.

The health service is becoming a wellness service, as disease-specific silos give way to primary care-focused models that take a wider population health view. But this transformation is being hindered by the current workforce crisis.

Budget constraints and the rising number of older people living with multiple long-term conditions leave those working on the front line running just to keep up, let alone having the ability to drive any kind of revolution.

Last week, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) warned that staff within the NHS were so overworked and lacking in expertise that patient safety was at risk.

“Staff told us time and time again that safety should be their top priority, but they are working so hard with the workload that sometimes it is very difficult to prioritise it the way they want to,” Ted Baker, lead inspector at the CQC, told the Healthcare Services Journal.

Joint-working makeover

It is widely acknowledged that the health service needs a Joint Working makeover if it is to overcome its current challenges.

Integrated pathways that join health and social care across specialisms via a primary care hub are in the making.  Government investment in primary care models is growing and is a key focus of the 10-year plan, with pilot projects showing promising results.

But the people we are asking to drive and ultimately deliver this change – the GPs, nurses, prescribing pharmacists – are not necessarily equipped with the skills needed to do that.

Skills such as how to commission services; how to have difficult conversations, drive challenging negotiations, and undertake the responsibility and accountability conversation with social care colleagues; how to work with sustainability and transformation partnerships to build better relationships that allow for staff retention or the uplift of staff skills.

These skills are not taught in college or medical school, but yet we have them within pharma.

Next level safety

To embrace joint working and integrated care, we need to ensure primary care is ready for the challenge by investing in commercial, outcomes and skills education.

If we want to take patient safety and outcomes to the next level, we need to stop tinkering with brand-specific education, service redesign and outdated detail aids. We need to take a step back, look at the bigger picture and invest in the workforce.

The pharmaceutical industry has the ability, resources and expertise to assist in the joint development and implementation of patient-centred projects.

Healthcare professionals care about their patients and they know what they need to do to deliver integrated care and better outcomes. But sometimes they just don’t know how to get there. Its like knowing you need to get from Birmingham to Southampton and not having a road map of the route.

In pharma we need to ensure marketing and market access strategies are aligned to the capacities and capabilities within the primary care model. It’s about assessing the gap analysis and then working with centres to install the competencies they need to thrive. Do they have everything that they need to deliver the future NHS?

Win/win/win

Working together to build the ‘NHS of the future’ is good for everyone.

It benefits the patients, who get the right people with the right skills treating them at the right time.

It benefits clinicians who, with the right skills, are able to build care systems to meet the needs of their population. It benefits the NHS by offering more cost-effective and efficient ways of working.

And it benefits pharma by allowing us to build the relationships and the credibility we need to take integrated working in a mutually beneficial direction.

*Grey Bear specialises in working with the pharmaceutical industry to deliver skills and competency -based training for healthcare professionals. Get in touch with our Managing Director for more information at [email protected]