Leeds hosts health workforce expert panel debate

Health news

Leading experts in public health and care policy debated health workforce related challenges and how cross-sector collaboration can address them at a panel discussion at the University of Leeds.

The panel featured Lord Nigel Crisp, founder and former chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Health; Fatima Khan-Shah from West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership; Professor Mark Kearney, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health; and NHS Workforce Plan director Barny Leavers. It was chaired by Sky News presenter Gillian Joseph. 

Introduced by Leeds’ Interim Vice-Chancellor, Professor Hai-Sui Yu, they discussed the current challenges faced by the UK’s health and social care workforce, and how sharing ideas from the sector, from academia and from policymakers can address these challenges. 

Discussion topics included making the NHS a more attractive employer and improving staff retention; the impact of health inequalities and an ageing population with comorbid health conditions, and the challenges of implementing the 15-year NHS Workforce Plan. 

Nigel Crisp said: “We in this country and the West generally are still using 20th century methods of organisation to deal with 21st century problems. If you're an elderly person with comorbidities, the way healthcare is organised around physicians, hospitals and individual specialities isn’t going to work for you. Technology is going to make extraordinary differences to the jobs that people do, and we have to be planning for 10 and 15 years ahead. I think the biggest lever for change is professional education.” 

Mark Kearney observed how medicine has changed during his career, with many more patients now living much longer and with several co-morbid health conditions – and highlighted how Leeds trains medicine and healthcare students together to prepare them for working together, across disciplines and specialities. 

The panel agreed that changing workplace culture and increasing diversity among the health and social care workforce was key to staff recruitment and retention. 

And they discussed the changing expectations of the new, post COVID-19 workforce, including more flexibility and greater development opportunities.  

Barny Leavers said that delivering the NHS Workforce Plan was not simply a matter of employing more people. A key aspect was increasing the number of clinical roles trained by as apprenticeships from around 7% now to around more than 22% 25%, and bringing in further development opportunities.

He said: “The NHS in England is well on the path to delivering a changes to in the service model of care delivery, in particular how we shift care closer into the community: in primary care, community settings or in people's homes. So that has implications for the skills we need in the workforce. We want to really think about the way we train and work with staff to and see delivery of this significant change.”

Regional collaboration

The debate highlighted the partnership work already happening in Leeds to tackle these challenges. 

Leeds Academic Health Partnership is a partnership between Leeds' universities, our local NHS organisations, Leeds City Council, Leeds City College, the regional health and care partnership, West Yorkshire Combined Authority and charity organisations. 

Leeds Health and Care Partnership works with partners (NHS, Leeds City Council, Healthwatch and other not for profit organisations and charities) and the people of Leeds to share resources, ideas and best practice to improve health outcomes and reduce health inequalities across the city. 

Through working in partnership, Leeds has agreed five system initiatives within the Healthy Leeds Plan, and two goals to work together on the system.  From a workforce perspective there is a common goal for partnership working - to make the best use of everyone's time. 

Health Innovation Yorkshire & Humber is one of 15 organisations set up by NHS England to operate as the key innovation arm of the NHS with a vision to improve the health and prosperity of the region by unlocking the potential of new ideas. It acts as a bridge between health care providers, commissioners, academia and industry to build a pipeline of solutions for the NHS from research and product.  

And West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board is a health and care partnership made up of partners from across the NHS, local government, voluntary, social enterprise and community sectors. It is an integrated care system focused on collaboration as a means of driving improved outcomes for people in West Yorkshire. 

The debate is one of a series of talks exploring key topics in the levelling up agenda to be sponsored by the Royal Society of Arts and the N8 Research Partnership, a collaboration of the eight most research-intensive universities in the North of England. 

After the event, Fatima Khan Shah said: “It’s important to recognise that organisations may have unequal structures and there are always areas we must improve on to create a fair and lasting health system that supports colleagues to be innovative which also helps improve the care and support they deliver to people and communities. This is after all why we all come to work. The actions we are taking as a Partnership are in line with our race review report and recommendations, and reflect a commitment to addressing these issues.” 

Further information 

For media enquiries, email University of Leeds press officer Lauren Ballinger via l.ballinger@leeds.ac.uk.