HR to play critical role in changing NHS

first_img Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. HR to play critical role in changing NHSOn 6 May 2003 in Personnel Today This year promises to be a time of huge change for the NHS as the Agenda forChange programme beds in. Government plans to give top-performing trusts morecontrol over budgets and management by awarding Foundation Trust status alsomean significant new people management challenges for healthcare HRprofessionals. NHS HR director Andrew Foster explains why he is optimistic thechanges will be beneficialQ. How will the Agenda for Change programme boost retention andrecruitment? A. It will do so in a number of ways. First of all, and quite simply,it puts more money into pay, and there is a well-understood economic model; themore money you put into pay, the more attractive jobs are. So that in itself ithas an impact on recruitment and retention. Also, what we are trying to achieve with Agenda for Change is much bettercareer opportunities for staff. There is no longer the expectation that you geta job in the NHS and that’s it, that is your job. What we are trying tounderpin with the agenda is this ‘skills escalator’ concept. The idea thatwhatever job you do, we will support you through learning, to acquire theknowledge and skills necessary to take you to the next job. The idea is to encourage people to take on more responsibility and pay themextra for it. Although part of the logic is that contented staff are bettermotivated and more productive, it also uses the skills in the health servicefar more effectively. Q. Is there a danger that Foundation Hospital status could create atwo-tier health service, at least in the short term? A. The Foundation Hospital approach is a process intended to raiseeverybody’s standards. I think there is some fear that, in the early days,there are going to be 20 or 30 foundation hospitals and the rest will be theNHS. If this was the case, then by definition, you would have had two differenttypes of NHS. But really, what the secretary of state has made clear is that there are afew people who are ready to go into this status quickly, and we want toencourage others to raise their game in all the areas necessary so they too canbecome foundation trusts. Eventually, foundation trusts will be the model. Q. Is there not a danger that trusts without foundation status will findit harder to recruit? A. There is a risk of that, and we will be operating a series ofsystems to try and minimise the effect of that. I think it is inescapable thatif hospital A is super-duper and hospital B is said to be struggling a bit,then if you are a nurse looking for a job you will be more attracted tohospital A. We can manage that to some extent by requiring local employers toco-operate with each other. We would make sure you wouldn’t have prices goingup against each other. Q. When you spoke at the Association of Healthcare Human Resource Managementconference in October, you mentioned plans to create an HR development centre.How much progress has been made on this, and what will it deliver for the NHS? A. We have appointed Dean Royals, who is ex-deputy-chief executive ofan NHS trust, as head of our capacity unit. The capacity unit’s job is to increase the numbers, the quality and thecapability of people who work in HR management in the NHS. This, by extension,will raise the quality of people management and general management in the NHS. [Royals] is setting up that unit with a budget that will grow over the nextthree years. And this will be partly to commission extra training and partly toidentify gaps in the system at the moment. It is really to introduce a muchmore systematic approach so we can develop the appropriate types of trainingfor people when they are recruited, and then as junior managers, seniormanagers, and all the way through. Q. You also highlighted the possibility of introducing an NHS-widebalanced scorecard to be piloted this year. When is this likely to go live? A. Last year, we produced a strategy for the workforce in the healthservice. It has two primary objectives. One, to get more staff into the NHS,because we are trying to recruit at the rate of about an extra 50,000 people ayear. And second, it is about working differently. That means reorganisingservices and jobs around patient needs. We have four strategic pillars to do this. One is by making the NHS a modelemployer; the second is by offering a model career; the third is by improvingmorale, and the fourth is raising capacity, and that is really the strategy. We want to launch the scorecard at our major HR conference in June and testit during next year (2003 to 2004), so it will be non-obligatory, but somethingwe will trial because clearly there are some fairly subjective judgementsthere. Then in the next financial year, this will become the system that measuresthe contribution of HR. It will be an element of the overall performance review– the star rating. Q. At what stage of development is the NHS University? And what impact doyou hope it will have on workforce training and development? A. It is due to start properly in November this year. The NHS Universitylaunched its consultation plan last autumn. I think the initial vision is a body that can extend learning to areas thatare arid at the moment. For example, we spend a huge amount on medicaleducation, and less on porters and cleaners. In supporting the concept of a‘skills escalator’, we need to be encouraging the porters and cleaners tobecome healthcare assistants, and the healthcare assistants to becomeregistered staff. In due course, I think the university aspires to be an umbrella for learningin the whole NHS. It won’t be a bricks and mortar university, but will look atother ways of learning – using workplace learning, learning at home,e-learning, and formal training. Q. How is the NHS implementing flexible working? A. I think the NHS is the best large employer in the country forflexible working. We introduced a strategy called improving working lives three years agowhich is now biting in every corner of the NHS. Virtually all staff should havethe opportunity to help control their working hours. Surveys show that at least80 per cent of staff are given the opportunity to work flexibly. Andrew Foster’s CV– 2001 – HR director, NHS– 2001 – Chairman, Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Trust – 2001 – Member of the North West Region Modernisation Board– 1999 – Human Resources policy director, NHS Confederation – 1996 – Chairman, NHS Confederation HR Committee– 1996 – Chairman, Wigan and Leigh Health Services NHS Trust – 1992 – Chairman, West Lancashire NHS Trust Related posts:No related photos.last_img