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Building a digital ready workforce

The health and care system is under more pressure than it ever has before. We are living longer with more health problems, which are getting more and more expensive to treat as the investigations and treatments get more advanced.


Without innovation, public services costs tend to rise faster than the rest of the economy. Without innovation, the inevitable pressure to contain costs can only be met by forcing already stretched staff to work harder

Mulgan G & Albury D. (2003) – Innovation in the public sector, Strategy Unity, 2008

Sound familiar?

The plan is to innovate. To transform the way we offer our health and care services in a way that makes them sustainable and brings them into line with our budget. The plan is to do this on a geographical footprint that makes sense, covering enough people to make it comprehensive without making it unwieldy – enter the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP). We think that in order to transform, we need to use all of the tools in our toolbox. Four of those tools are data, information, knowledge and technology. We’ll call them ‘Digital’.

Our mission is to help everyone in the health and care sector in England, all 3 million of them, be comfortable enough with those four tools that they can contribute to that transformation and deliver the outcomes of their role quicker, easier, safer and at a higher level of quality.

To do this requires a deep breath -we’re all different. We work in different organisations, in different roles, trying to achieve different things. The way I need to use those four tools is different to the way you do.

That’s intimidating, but we do have some things in our favour. Firstly, every single organisation in health and social care has a duty for the learning and development of its own staff. Secondly, the skills, the products and services we need by-and-large already exist. That means our programme isn’t about building a new learning solution, it’s about helping to find where people have solved part of this problem and stitch them together into a cohesive offering for our whole industry.

Some people offer product, some deliver product and some influence other people to use that product. The Building a Digital Ready Workforce programme aims to bring these people together in a culture that recognises the need to innovate and the role of digital in that innovation. In short, and as much as is practical, ‘gluing not doing’.

We’ll do this through three workstreams:

Leadership and Culture

Our executive directors and owners in health and social care set the culture that operates in their organisations. This workstream will help these people devise and share best practice against the backdrop of the need for radical transformation. In this way our leaders will set the right culture that empowers all staff to be part of the solution and develop the capabilities to confidently understand how ‘digital’ can support innovation and transformation and service delivery.

Professionalism

We have between 30,000 and 60,000 digital natives in the NHS, people whose job is predominantly about using data, information, knowledge or technology. The professionalism workstream will fashion this group into a well-organised, well-developed army of informatics professionals able to develop and maintain learning products and supportive tools for the specialist and generalist alike. Our vision is for these people will become digital champions, leaders and educators.

Digital Literacy

We will work with professional groups, such as nurses, to identify pain points and work to help them define what they need to become digitally expert to the level they need. Their needs will inform our work with leaders and our digital natives to make sure barriers are removed and the right products and services are provided in the right way.

Partnership

All of this is done in the spirit of partnership. Our network of partners includes professional bodies, academic bodies, charities, other government departments, industry, health and care providers, commissioners and arm’s length bodies. We all have our part to play. The programme will help to make sure we learn from one another and don’t waste effort through conflict or unnecessary duplication.

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