Skills and Education

“The Health Professions Education Investment review recognised that workforce planning had been, at best, sub-optimal with very little thought and attention given to the process over and above an incremental approach, which has done little, if anything, to consider and embrace strategic changes and develop professional roles in line with re-modelled service requirements.
“It advocated that the process required significant adaptation to bring it into line with policy
directions, the Prudent Healthcare agenda and the future requirements of NHS Wales.
“The need to improve workforce planning was a common theme that emerged during evidence gathering sessions, with organisations across the spectrum highlighting the need for a workforce planning mechanism that reflected service planning in place to address the health and social care needs of the population.
“The CMO indicated that “workforce planning needs to be better aligned to the competencies required rather than numbers of specific professionals”.”

Health Professions Education
Investment Review February 2016

The Regional Learning & Skills Observatory Data & Intelligence Report: 10th Edition notes the importance of the health, public administration and education sectors to the region (and key sectors for ARCH).


Specifically the report states that the health sector will be the second largest employer across South West and Central Wales with 36,900 employees by 2030, while health, public administration & defence and education sectors respectively will be second, third and fourth largest contributors to regional GVA.

The region currently has a range of, workforce issues which include significant vacancies (that have to date been unable to be recruited) within nursing and midwifery registered along with medical and dental staff groups.

The specific recruitment issues for the health boards within the ARCH region are circa 4.2% down across both Health Boards and all staff groups, however significant issues in key staff areas namely:

  • 25% down in planned ‘Medical and Dental’ roles/ numbers within Hywel Dda UHB;
  • 9.2% down in planned ‘Medical and Dental’ roles within ABMU;
  • 9.6% down in planned ‘Nursing and midwifery registered’ roles in Hywel Dda UHB;
  • 7% down in planned ‘Nursing and midwifery registered’ roles in ABMU
  • -13.1% down in planned Band 5 (Nursing & midwifery registered) roles in Hywel Dda UHB;
  • 11.6% down planned Band 5 (Nursing & midwifery registered) roles in ABMU.

Issues regarding recruitment not only contribute to a significant variable pay bill but also threaten continuity and quality of healthcare. Workforce instability is a significant contributor to weakened performance which includes the health boards financial deficit of which variable pay contributes circa combined £73million deficit (total across both Health Boards).

Issues regarding health board hitting targets can also in part be attributed due to workforce recruitment problems.

ARCH is a pro-active response to the urgent requirement to reshape and upskill the workforce to be fit for purpose with changing service models, patient expectations and overall needs.

Both ABMU & Hywel Dda have identified common skills, workforce and education action required in order to stabilise and produce a sustainable workforce. Specifically these include:

  • Initiating Regional/ Collaborative Planning of the Workforce
  • Action on widening access
  • Action on recruitment
  • Action on retention
  • Action on developing new and extended roles
  • Action on re-designing primary care workforce
  • Action on leadership and management development

ARCH aims to establish a pipeline which builds on the University’s success to date by making the most of the opportunities to train future staff to meet the need articulated by the health boards.

The ARCH partners realise the vital need to plan and build a workforce with the right numbers and mix of skills to meet the majority of peoples planned and unplanned needs at the right time, by the right person, closer to home in flexible ways and flexible facilities. ARCH also recognises it is imperative that the regional health and social care workforce is talented, skilled and an aligned workforce to deliver organisational strategies and objectives that will impact upon the health and wellbeing of individuals within the region.

To achieve this, short and long term strategic interventions need to be developed that are creative and aspirational. It is clearly evident that the model currently utilised for workforce planning is not sustainable and does not deliver the expectations of the health boards within the region.

Download a summary of the Portfolio Delivery Plan here

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