A workforce fit for the future: Working together to improve the delivery of urgent and emergency care

08 / 08 / 2014

This briefing brings together the learning from two workshops held by the NHS Confederation’s Hospitals and Urgent and Emergency Care Forums and hosted by PwC, which explored how to develop a more flexible, integrated workforce to deliver urgent and emergency care.

Health and social care needs have changed substantially over the past two decades, mainly due to rising levels of chronic diseases and complex conditions and the growing need for long-term care. Socio-economic factors and inequalities in access to healthcare have also increased this burden.

Services have not sufficiently adapted to this change and are not always responsive to the needs of the population they serve. Too much emphasis is still on treating rather than preventing illness, often with overlaps or lack of integration in the provision, and commissioning, of services. This makes it difficult to manage the demand for urgent and emergency care and raises serious sustainability concerns.

To provide the new types of healthcare required, which are wrapped around people’s needs and take into account the increase in the demand, there must be corresponding changes in the design, training, planning and deployment of the health and care workforce.

NHS England’s review of urgent and emergency care, led by Professor Keith Willett, recognises the importance of addressing workforce issues if we are to improve access to and outcomes from unscheduled care.

In February and March this year, the NHS Confederation’s Hospitals and Urgent and Emergency Care Forums held two workshops, hosted by PwC, exploring system changes that would bring a more flexible, integrated workforce delivering urgent and emergency care 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

This briefing brings together the perspectives shared during those workshops. It is intended as a reference document for our members, providing an overview of existing programmes designed to deliver workforce changes at system level and practical examples of their implementation. 

It also offers some useful recommendations to national bodies involved in workforce design, planning and training on how to accelerate and better align their initiatives.

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