The Covid-19 pandemic has led to many lessons learned, often the hard way. One main takeaway is the need for systemic workforce planning, taking it from the periphery into the centre focus. This year is the “Year of the Health and Care Workers,” and Health Education England wants to showcase the need to implement thorough workforce planning principles to ensure the health and care workforce is equipped, empowered, and ready.
The years 2020 and 2021 were exceptional in the field of health and care. A virus outbreak in the end of 2019 spread to become an official global pandemic the 11th of March 2020, having filled namely every hospital bed and used up even the last remaining ventilator. There were country health systems that were equipped with the knowledge and resources to absorb this shock somewhat smoothly, like Saudi Arabia who had already faced a coronavirus outbreak in 2012. Others found themselves abruptly opening intensive care units in parking lots, hiding behind three K-95s and reusing single-use personal protective equipment to avoid further shortages. While pandemic restrictions rendered most economic activity dormant, there was one strand of the workforce that went into overdrive: health and care workers.
As soldiers going into battle, health and care workers exposed themselves to this then-mysterious disease, using every last resource to ensure, to a degree, patient safety. Around 115,000 health workers were lost during the pandemic in 2020 and 2021. While the world applauds health and care workers for their arduous labour, the World Health Organisation sought to turn this “applause into action” for health workers under the motto “Protect, Invest, Together.” This designation aims to ensure that health and care workers needs are met, that they are equipped for shocks like Covid-19, and that they are appreciated.
As part of this designation, Health Education England has launched the Year of the Health and Care Workers programme, contributing their knowledge and expertise on workforce planning and health system strengthening for the sake of the present and future health workforce. The first part of this programme is the seminar series. These seek to discuss what systemic workforce planning is, and how systemic workforce planning may be applied to develop workable and economically viable solutions to strengthen the global health workforce. These seminars have two key audiences:
- Policy makers and practitioners within the wider global health care community. The seminar will offer an insight and generate debate about how we can effectively plan the workforce in a way that supports and strengthens the health sector.
- Colleagues seeking to develop their knowledge and practice in the field of workforce and planning who have joined one of eight action learning sets. These are supported by the University of Salford.
In fulfilling its aim and meeting the needs of its two key audiences, the seminars will:
- Highlight key theoretical and technical knowledge required to develop effective workforce plans for a modern health care system to thrive.
- Demonstrate how systems and organisations need to develop to enable the development of workforce plans and act.
- Provide insights into how individuals and teams can exercise influence through workforce planning and transformation practices, based on practical experience.
With panels of high calibre speakers, the first seminar December 2021 and has been seen more than one thousand times. The second seminar in March 2022 featured even more speakers, and has gathered a similar number of views. Seminar by seminar, the workforce can find itself a bit more enriched.