Understanding workforce planning

When compared nationally there is marked, unexplained variation in the experience, knowledge, qualifications, skills and values that NHS organisations seek when employing mental health clinical support staff (Nuffield Trust, 2021, pg. 5) that indicates an issue with workforce planning. Reflecting this there are 96 job titles in the electronic staff records that fall within this workforce (Nuffield Trust, 2021, pg. 3). These conflicting and confusing aspects make it difficult at a local, regional and national level to provide opportunities for training and development (such as rotations, secondments, competency frameworks, career mapping etc.).

The following resources will help you to understand more about workforce planning and ensure the mental health support workforce is included in your plans.

We recommend speaking to your HR/Learning and Development team to understand what local policies and procedures are in place and use these resources to support in the process.

Workforce planning is a core business process which aligns changing organisation needs with people strategy. It can be the most effective activity an organisation can engage in. It doesn’t need to be complicated and can be adjusted to suit the size and maturity of any organisation. It can provide market and industry intelligence to help organisations focus on a range of challenges and issues, and prepare for initiatives to support longer term business goals.

- The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

Understanding workforce planning methodology

Health Education England (HEE) and HEE e-learning for Healthcare have developed the System Workforce Planning e-learning resource. This provides a practical and easy-to-use four-step process to workforce planning aimed at anyone involved in workforce planning, at both a strategic and operational level.

HEE e-learning for Healthcare have also created the Six Steps Approach to Workforce Planning programme. This is a tool to support health and social care organisations with workforce planning. The programme is made up of six steps which will guide the health and social care professional through the principles and activities of planning.

Workforce planning in practice

The HEE Star is a directory of offers, products, and resources available through Health Education England to support those providing healthcare services in addressing workforce challenges. Trained colleagues can work with you to help plan and deliver a Star workshop to look at the specific challenges within your healthcare system.

The Recipe for good workforce planning, available on the HEE resource hub, provides a range of documents and resources for the different stages of workforce planning, including sections on:

Skills for Health provide free resources and consultancy through the Six Step Methodology to Integrated Workforce Planning. This methodology is a practical approach that ensures you have a workforce of the right size with the right skills and competences.

Connect with others and share best practice

NHS England and Improvement has an online community for those responsible for this workforce to discuss and share information. Request access, or contact NHSI.workforce@nhs.net for more information.

Case Studies

You will need a free NHSFutures Platform log in to access these resources.