September - Restoration and recovery: focus on ‘our people’

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Since the start of the pandemic, the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent ICS People Function team has worked with system partners to implement significant changes across the health and social care workforce, focusing on recruitment and retention. The main areas of focus have been developing our People Hub, the reserves programme, widening participation, workforce planning and retention.


People Hub

As a direct response to COVID-19 and the additional workforce demand, the ICS People Function, in collaboration with system partners, created a System Bank - Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent’s Health and Care People Hub.

More than 1,200 staff are ready to support a variety of sectors and settings including testing, vaccination centres, intensive care units, community, care homes and primary care.

A wide range of people stepped forward to join our system from a variety of backgrounds including pilots, cabin crew, hair and beauty, hospitality, unemployed and more. They have been retrained in clinical and care delivery to support in the response to COVID-19. The vaccination workforce is a combination of paid employees, ‘mutual aid’ staff that have stepped forward to support, volunteers and bank staff from local NHS employers. There has been significant partnership working across NHS, social care, councils, the fire service, military, primary care and the voluntary sector to staff centres and hubs.

We’re currently offering career conversations to the People Hub staff, which will hopefully help to inform their career choices in health and social care and help people take the first step on the right career path for them.



Reserves programme

The team is currently liaising with partners to develop a Reserves Programme to retain staff recruited during the pandemic to support with surges in service demand. Roles will include unregistered clinical and non-clinical roles and registered professionals, all of which will follow robust training matrixes. The recruits will commit to a number of days annually – to be available in times of need. The high-level scenarios for which recruits would be deployed are currently under discussion. Some of these may include vaccine delivery, local disasters and winter pressures.

A campaign is being launched shortly to recruit registered nurses, occupational therapists and physiotherapists to support services across the system during this critical time.



The programme team will be focussing on Retention over the coming months, with a number of specific projects commencing:

  • A Retention and Flexible Working pilot, project-led by Retention Coordinators, aiming to enable transformation in flexible working practice and improve retention across the local ICS. This will focus on the hardest hit clinical services to analyse, diagnose and implement changes in practice to improve retention, flexible working, staff experience, health and wellbeing, service delivery and patient experience.

  • Taking part in the national ‘Flex in the NHS’ programme which includes webinars, group sessions, toolkits and advice from a dedicated team to troubleshoot flexible working in our system.

The Redeployment Service continues to provide support and guidance to members of staff at risk of redundancy across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, seeking suitable alternative employment wherever possible. To date, the service has co-ordinated the successful redeployment of 225 members of staff and has saved the NHS £4.3 million in redundancy costs.


Widening participation

Levy funds transfers have been supported across the sector since 2019 and to date £978,000 has been used for 216 apprenticeships. We are currently supporting 80 new applications which will use an additional £449,000. Funding for a range of apprenticeship programmes has been approved from Level 2 Adult Care Work to Trainee Nurse Associates.

Concerning our ICS Health and Care Apprenticeship pathway, we have five Level 3 Senior Healthcare Support Workers and seven Level 2 Healthcare Support Workers. These are supporting services in elderly care, mental health and general practice. Planning is in place for the recruitment of cohort three, Level 2 Healthcare Support Workers and a primary care based Level 3 Pharmacy Technician apprenticeship to address skill shortages within the workforce.

We’re also currently creating with Cornerstone schools and system partners, a Virtual Work Experience Programme to provide an attractive and innovative work experience offer. As a first step, and to provide students with a taster for the programme, we’ll be organising a virtual careers day in mental health.


Workforce planning

The team is supporting workforce planning across the system in a number of areas including winter and surge planning, COVID-19 and flu vaccination delivery and the System Operating Plan. The team is working closely with leads from maternity, cancer and mental health programmes to refresh and review workforce plans in line with service transformation and growth programmes.