Making the most of the skills in our teams

The NHS’s response so far to COVID-19 has shown how quickly and effectively our people can adapt to meet the needs of patients.  Staff working and learning together, in new multi-professional teams, was critical in meeting the new challenge. We must build on this, actively designing multi-professional teams around the full range of experience and capabilities of clinical and non-clinical members of staff, keeping patient and staff safety at the forefront.

In response to pandemic surge demand, a rolling programme of clinical skills education enabled a cohort of ‘B’ nurses to be clinically prepared to support the critical care ‘A’ nurses in bedside delivery. More than 100 additional professionals were upskilled with critical care essentials and proning techniques. On return to their normal area of practice, they have taken their additional skills to enhance their practice, plus a collaborative appreciation of organisational services and ability and willingness for future redeployment.

Intensive care nurse, South East

Staff should expect organisations and employers to focus on the following areas:

Supporting deployment and redeployment: Employers should use guidance on safely redeploying existing staff and deploying returning staff, developed in response to COVID-19 by NHS England and NHS Improvement and key partners, alongside the existing tool to support a structured approach to ongoing workforce transformation.

Upskilling staff: There should be continued focus on upskilling – developing skills and expanding capabilities – to create more flexibility, boost morale and support career progression. Systems should keep the need for local retraining and upskilling under review, working in partnership with local higher education institutions.

There is wide recognition of the need for a nationally recognised critical care qualification which is open to different professions. HEE will work with professional and regulatory bodies to provide this to offer continuing professional development opportunities for people wishing to specialise in this area. HEE is also working with the medical Royal Colleges and regulators to ensure that competencies gained by medical trainees whilst working in other roles during COVID-19 can be recognised and count towards training.

Technology-enhanced learning: Employers and organisations should use HEE’s e-Learning for Healthcare (e-LfH) programme and a new online Learning Hub, which was launched to support learning during COVID-19. They include resources and training on new ways of working, including GP remote consultations and remote triage; remote learning for colleagues being redeployed to ICU; and content for nurses, midwives, allied health professionals, radiographers, pharmacy staff and those working in the independent and social care sectors.

Developing generalist skills: In July 2020, HEE published the Future Doctor report, which sets out the reforms needed in education and training to equip doctors with the skills that the future NHS needs, and which have been much in demand during the COVID-19 response so far. During 2020/21, HEE will develop the educational offer for this generalist training and work with local systems to develop the leadership and infrastructure required to deliver it.

Primary care teams: By the end of 2020/21, HEE will support the expansion of multi-disciplinary teams in primary care, through the full roll-out of primary care training hubs, to make sure there are enough people and leaders to create multidisciplinary teams that can respond to local population need.