Increasingly complex patient care needs require greater versatility in the workforce. The ability to adapt to provide care in different settings, at different times and in different organisational and team structures is becoming even more essential for individuals and multidisciplinary teams. The balance of generalist and specialist skills across the current health and social care workforce needs to improve.

Supporting resources

The Calderdale Framework: provides a clear and systematic method of reviewing skill mix and roles within a service to ensure quality and safety for patients.

Skills for Health competence application tools: provide a resource to select the most appropriate competencies to consider when reviewing skill mix and roles within a service to ensure quality and safety for patients.

Our products to inform workforce versatility

Physician associates information support pack: This has been developed to inform CCGs and Primary Care about the role of Physician Associates, reduce variation in the role with standardised job descriptions and promote the role of PAs in the development of new models of care.

London pharmacy matters: An information support pack is now available containing policy and key messages; challenges for the pharmacy sector; best practice case studies; plus an outline of the range of roles pharmacy can and could do to support out of hospital and improve access to care.

Common insights

Adapting to patients’ increasingly complex needs

There is an increasing tendency towards greater workforce specialisation. Whilst experts in their field are an essential part of the future workforce, there is a need to build additional generalist expertise in the existing workforce. For example, there could be a greater role of clinical pharmacists in the optimisation of medicines for patients with long-term conditions and pharmacy roles in managing minor illness and medicines advice.

To meet the increased demand for care services across the NHS, there is a need for health professionals to deliver services closer to the patient. In many areas where there are shortages in professions, use of other suitable health professionals should be considered.  For example, it has been stated that pharmacists and HCAs are examples of underutilised health professionals in the existing workforce.

Where further multidisciplinary teamworking can be improved to enhance workforce versatility to meet patients’ complex needs, a greater focus should be made on agreeing clear roles and responsibilities between team members. In addition, emphasis should be on staff competencies to ‘do the job’, rather than just qualifications held (i.e. determine who is best placed to meet the needs of the patient, not what qualification they have).

There is a need to encourage new ways of working that ensure rapid access is provided to a broad range of expertise in the right settings.

Through adapting practices to address the desire to provide seven day services there may be an opportunity to provide a more complete service to individuals with multiple co-morbidities.

For more details see chapter 5 of the London Workforce Strategic Framework

Case studies

Mental Health Nurses in London Ambulance Service: The London Ambulance Service worked to improve the specialist response they are able to provide for mental health patients.

Nurse Practitioner led General Practice: The Cuckoo Lane Practice implemented a successful model for nurse-led care.

Visit the Skills for Health website for more case studies on workforce versatility.