Partnership launches people plan to support over 100,000 staff, carers, and volunteers

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West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership (WY HCP) have launched their new ‘People Plan’ to support, develop, recruit, and retain health and care staff across the area.

WY HCP works across many different organisations in the health and care sector, including the NHS, councils, care providers, hospices, Healthwatch, voluntary community and social enterprise (VCSE) and through the estimated 400,000 unpaid carers who are all part of a diverse, and valued workforce.  Developed with colleagues from different health and care sectors, with their views at the heart of it, the plan is for them all.

The plan focuses on ensuring we have more staff, working differently in a compassionate culture. It also addresses the impact of COVID-19 on staff, volunteers, and carers, ensuring more support is available to support the wellbeing of everyone.

It considers how WY HCP will address the 6,500 vacancies across health and care. Crucially, it aims to ensure that there are good jobs for people in West Yorkshire, recognising the health and care sector spends a substantial majority of its £5billion budget on staff. There are careers in clinical and non-clinical disciplines and WY HCP expect to target recruitment in poorer communities.

The new plan builds on progress made since the publication of ‘A healthy place to live, a great place to work’ in 2018. This includes the recruitment of 341 nursing associates, 1,400 apprenticeships, new mental health roles such as peer support workers and mental health staff in primary care, for example GP surgeries. More than £1.5million funding for workforce development above the continuing professional development funding to facilitate upskilling and implementing new ways of working has also been given.

Since 2018, there has been a 25% growth in the medical and dental workforce (including training roles) across West Yorkshire from 2,782 whole-time equivalents to 3,215 (excluding training grades) as well as an 8% growth in the nursing and midwifery workforce from 14,257 to 15,418 and a 15% growth in allied health professionals (AHPs) from 5,038 to 5,797 whole time equivalents (WTE). There has also been 2% growth in GPs from 1,187 to 1,216. The adult social care workforce (source: Skills for Care Data) shows that from 55,000 jobs in 2018/2019, there are now 58,000 in 2020/2021. This does not include vacancies. In 2022 our growth plans include additional recruitment of  1,500 nurses, 560 AHPs and 2,500 clinical support staff (WTEs).  

The plan also builds on support for carers across the pandemic, with numbers increasing to approximately 400,000 (many don’t access formal support). Estimates suggest that carers across West Yorkshire save the economy £7.7billion per year, an average of £19,000 per carer (Carers UK). As a Partnership we are working hard to ensure carers are supported in the workplace. Working carers passports create a flexible working agreement between them and their manager to support them to continue balancing work and caring responsibilities.

Growing the workforce will require better support in workforce role development and workforce planning. Other work includes the Health and Care Workforce Observatory in development with Yorkshire Universities as part of a support and recruitment package.

Brendan Brown, CEO for Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, and WY HCP workforce lead said: ‘The priorities set out in our latest plan have been informed through our response to COVID-19 and colleague engagement. It outlines how we must support our people across all health and care sectors as we progress with the post pandemic recovery. The plan is about embedding the learning and good practice that has helped us through this challenging period, as well as setting out the longer-term ambitions for our people so they can continue to deliver quality care now and, in the future,’.

Rob Webster CBE, CEO-Designate for WY HCP said: ‘This plan sets out the actions that we will need to take if we are to support the wellbeing of our staff and recruit people across West Yorkshire into new roles. Working in health and care is one of the most rewarding careers and we have over 300 roles that people can choose. I also want to make it clear that  this a system where we are taking action to ensure we have a diverse workforce reflective of the communities we serve. Our updated plan sets out how we are going to do this and would be strengthened further when we see the promised national workforce plan’.

As WY HCP faces challenges in recruiting and retaining a skilled workforce across all sectors –in social care as well as the NHS, they are working differently to ensure technology, meeting people’s needs, and real workforce investment is at its centre. The partnership recently invested £12million in the retention of the independent care sector.

Working with university partners, colleges and councils provides opportunities in over 300 roles to communities in West Yorkshire that suffer from issues of long-term unemployment or transient work, is another example.

Fatima Khan Shah, WY HCP Associate Director and convener of the Partnership’s Race Equality Network, said: ‘The plan aims to ensure career opportunities in the health and care sector are used to support social and economic development in our communities,  supporting the tackling of health inequalities and the West Yorkshire recovery plan. We want more staff, working differently in a compassionate culture, which reflect the communities they serve. This plan sets the framework by which we will make this a reality.

WY HCP has recruited a new People Director, Kate Sims, in recognition of their commitment to the support of all people working in these important services.

You can access the plan at workforce.wypartnership.co.uk/people-plan, where it is available in easy read, audio, and British Sign Language.