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How STPs and ICSs can provide local digital workforce solutions that work

PDMS was introduced to Sustainable Transformation Partnerships (STPs) and Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) when we received an invitation to tender for a digital solution to help a STP promote their local health and care sector.

While investigating STPs and ICSs, their challenges and potential solutions, we established that this was an area where, given our expertise and track record, we could bring about widespread transformation.

What are STPs and ICSs?

In 2016, NHS organisations and local councils developed shared proposals to improve health and care, working in 44 areas covering all of England. This resulted in STPs, created to bring local health and care leaders together to plan around the long-term needs of local communities. They were drawn up by senior figures from different parts of the local health and care system, following discussion with staff, patients and others in the communities they serve. A number of these partnerships have grown into ICSs and it is expected that by April 2021 every STP will become one. In an ICS, NHS organisations, in partnership with local councils and others, take collective responsibility for managing resources, delivering NHS standards, and improving the health of the population they serve.

How can PDMS support STPs and ICSs?

NHS England and NHS Improvement have stated that they see ICSs as local leaders and co-ordinators on the workforce. This means they are going to play a key role in the implementation of the soon to be released national workforce implementation plan. At a recent STP and ICS leaders development event an update on this plan was given that said the emerging narrative covered:

  • Making the NHS a better place to work
  • Improving our leadership culture to engage our people
  • Nursing and midwifery supply – need to increase nursing placements from September 2019 and revitalise the undergraduate pipeline generally
  • Need for a more diverse skill mix, new types of roles and different ways of working
  • Must ensure we are doing the right things at the right level – roadmap to greater devolution of workforce activities and resources to STPs/ICSs

Devolution of workforce development to STPs and ICSs is surely a positive move that represents a significant opportunity for transforming how the sector informs and works with local residents. At PDMS we are interested in how these devolved organisations utilise digital channels to do this.

The potential unintended consequences of devolved digital projects

There are a number of pitfalls that STPs and ICSs could fall into when they utilise digital tools to achieve their workforce objectives. These pitfalls will result in increased complexity for the individuals they are trying to target and the organisations they are trying to support. For example, if they work on digital projects entirely independently they will create a wide variety and quality of workforce websites and campaigns. Secondly, if the digital tools require input from local organisations (i.e. input of employment or training data) then they could be asking organisations to duplicate data entry that already takes place.

How to avoid the pitfall and provide solutions that work

At PDMS we have been working hard to create ways for local organisations to provide digital services to their community that don’t increase complexity for the whole. There are two fundamental principles (that we are willing to give away in a public article!) that would form our approach to ensuring STPs and ICSs avoid the pitfalls and provide solutions that work. Firstly, we would put the user at the centre of the process by enabling them to use one account across multiple STP and ICS workforce sites. This means if they want to explore opportunities in Essex one day and Sussex the next, our solution will enable them to move seamlessly between both solutions while enabling the separate STPs and ICSs to have an independent solution that is tailored to their region. Secondly, we would utilise our SignedUp Skills platform to feed each solution with vast amounts of labour market information and workforce opportunities. This will remove the need for organisations to input data into the system and it will ensure each solution is packed full of engaging opportunities for users to interact with.

If you are reading this and have questions or comments, please get in touch. We would love to hear from you!

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