The NHS faces a £30bn gap in its finances by 2020, requiring at least a 3 per cent per annum improvement in productivity. A recurrent theme in workforce redesign is the debate around substituting less costly healthcare staff for more expensive ones. The economics can be very appealing, and there is evidence of large variation in the productivity of the current workforce as well as duplication and waste, within and across health and social care services. Yet the evidence to date suggests generating significant savings from skill mix change, more integrated delivery models and application of improvement methodologies is very difficult in practice.
So how can changes in skill mix and new ways of working help to bridge this financial gap? We brought together a group of experts from the workforce and national health policy context to explore the issues surrounding skill mix change, focusing on questions such as:
- Which areas of service have the greatest potential for skill mix change?
- What would be the benefits and drawbacks of skill mix change?
- What are the current enablers and barriers to achieving skill mix change?
The conversation was facilitated by Nigel Edwards, Chief Executive of the Nuffield Trust with expert input from Richard Bohmer, Professor of Management Practice at Harvard Business School and International Visiting Fellow at the King’s Fund.