Hello PPMA members and friends
The NHS has been in the press quite a lot lately and we thought it would be good to hear from two former local government HR directors, Louise Tibbert (former PPMA President) and Raffaela Goodby, who talk about life in their new world.
It is now quite a few months since I moved from local government to the NHS. Making the transition into a new role and a new sector has been challenging but extremely enjoyable. From an HR and OD perspective the issues are very similar albeit in a very different context, eg – reducing operating costs against rising demands as well as improving or transforming services. Working with a range of partners across the ‘system’ and taking some leadership for this has been interesting but is now starting to have some impact. And, of course, it is all about people and culture. Sound familiar?
There is much more national governance and ‘red tape’ in the NHS – much more so than in local government. This is playing out visibly with the Junior Doctor dispute, A&E performance and the agency worker pay cap. Staffing levels and recruitment are major priorities. Most trusts have staffing shortfalls that they simply cannot fill, which is not helped by the approach of national (under) funding of training places for doctors and nurses and has helped to fuel the increase in agency pay rates. Priorities for HRDs in the NHS are likely to include all of the above plus an increasing focus on OD, which is now being recognised as a key enabler for the future. My own trust is engaged in a major change programme of shifting from three sites to two in Leicester, which includes building a new A&E and shifting some services (and some of our 1900 beds) closer to local communities. Our Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Better Care Together Programme is a collaboration across the city and two counties. Just in the last few months we delivered or are developing a range of people and OD strategies to support this major shift. HR and OD people in the NHS and the three local councils are working together now on delivery across the programme, which is a significant milestone. We are all very excited and committed to working in this way – and hopefully we will have some excellent practice to share more widely at some point soon!
Louise Tibbert is Director of Workforce and OD at the University Hospital of Leicester NHS Trust
The past 12 months have been a whirlwind of learning, action and planning, as I have got to grips with a new sector and new team. There has been some time for reflection though, with the realisation that the NHS you see in the press is not a true reflection of the 7,200 I work with on a (seven) daily basis. As Louise says, we face challenges of recruiting key skills to our Trust when everyone needs the same people, as well as attracting nurses from a tight pool where national funding has been removed; but for me the challenges lie in the conflict in the strategic narrative for the NHS. Before I joined I thought the purpose and narrative to engage and motivate was clear, providing the best care for our patients? Surely? But, in the maelstrom of government monitoring, multiple requests for the same data reporting, daily negative press stories, multi-million pound deficits (we are one of the few Trusts without one) and a regular working week topping 50-60 hours for senior managers; the narrative of doing the best for the patients gets lost. Why should we take difficult decisions about cuts and reinvestments and austerity measures when other Trusts will get ‘bailed out’? Why should we be efficient and plan for our 2020 Vision when we struggle to think beyond next week and next month’s reporting on the A&E four hour waiting target?
Creating the space to think to the future, and to ensure that our workforce has the right skills, in the right place, at the right time is my biggest challenge, and I want to ensure that when I am standing in our brand new hospital on 18th October 2018 I can assuredly say that I have done everything I can to develop my 7,200 colleagues to be skilled and ready to face the future. One day at a time – and 976 days to go!
Raffaela Goodby is Director of Workforce and OD, Sandwell & West Birmingham Hospitals Trust