Five ways to improve patient care and staff morale

New models of care, including the work of the vanguards, are key to the delivery of sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) which are being developed across the country. Transforming health and care services requires a valued and engaged workforce and in this blog, Dr Nav Chana, Clinical Adviser for Workforce Redesign – part of NHS England’s New Care Models Programme, shares five ways to approach this.

It is a crucial time to galvanise the NHS workforce if we are genuinely interested in reform and embracing the opportunities for staff and patients to work together differently. We need to engage individuals, organisations and systems and make more effective use of the resources we already have for wholly integrated care that works around the needs of a population.

Without the backing of a workforce that feels valued and motivated, we cannot continue to drive change to services for the communities they serve. The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has recently published a statement on their continued support for the new care models programme. Working together, we have set out a number of actions we will take to harness the collective power of professionals from all medical disciplines, as well as other members of the workforce, to help spread new models of care across the wider NHS and care services.

Strengthening our connections with The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges will help us to share practical ideas, tackle any tensions and support clinicians to be the leaders of change and positively influence the wider workforce.

So, how do we keep people healthier and happier at the same time as nurturing our workforce? Here are five ways to guide the approach:

  1. Change the model of care, rather than fixating on staff numbers – the ‘assets’ (i.e. staff) we need to make improvements are already at our disposal and we must work with and involve them continually. The experiences from the vanguards tells us that the dedicated staff you have are the staff you need but they may need help in developing their skills so that they are able to deliver care differently.
  2. Use analysis of population health to drive workforce modelling – take an approach that is ‘blind’ to organisational or professional boundaries, where the focus is on groups or communities of people with similar needs and develop your team around that common cause. This way, new roles or extra capacity are not needed.
  3. Be pragmatic – do what you can rather than wait for the perfect solution or organisational change. Let’s embrace the opportunities for healthcare professionals and patients when we come together and work as one team to achieve goals that are important to patients.
  4. Collaborative not positional leadership – good leaders connect people. Supporting a culture and appetite for integration rather than individual gain is essential.
  5. Community support – patients, carers and their support networks, for instance charities and other voluntary groups, are a key part of the future workforce – include them in their care and listen to what they say!

Still got questions or need advice on how to go about making changes? Please get in touch with a member of the new care models programme team through is a wealth of learning that can be shared from vanguards and integrated care pioneers. Practical support is also available.

Dr Nav Chana

Dr Nav Chana, National PCH Clinical Director, National Association of Primary Care (NAPC).

Dr Nav Chana has served as NAPC Chair for four years and has been integral to the development and roll out of more than 200 primary care home (PCH) sites across England. He has been a GP at the Cricket Green Medical Practice in South West London for over 26 years.

Previously Nav was Clinical Adviser for Workforce Redesign for the new care models programme, Director of Education Quality for Health Education South London and Postgraduate Dean for General Practice and Community-Based Education.

Nav featured in Pulse’s Power 50 list of the most influential GPs in 2018.