A new Labour Market Intelligence report has been launched today that applauds the ‘unsung heroes’ in the NHS and UK health sector – the health support workforce. The in-depth report authored by Ian Wheeler, Head of Research, LMI and Evaluation at Skills for Health shows how backing support workers and their development could save the sector millions each year. Using a broad estimate based on NHS data on workforce numbers and pay, the report predicts significant cost-savings, which could be in excess of £100 million.
The new report sets out to maintain the focus on developing the public understanding of support workers, following recent high profile reviews such as the Cavendish Review. The research not only focuses on clinical support staff, but also reviews a broad range of roles from secretarial, cleaning, catering and porters and maintenance and gives an in-depth insight into this section of the workforce including number of roles, qualifications, pay scales, training and skills development. Interestingly, the report establishes how better utilisation of the skills and expertise of support staff could help employers achieve greater efficiency and higher quality care.
Included in the report are three case studies that demonstrate the how the support worker role can be maximised to offer cost-efficiencies and deliver exemplary patient care:
- Velindre Cancer Care staff in Cardiff offer support from their mobile centre as well as the main site.
- Wellbeing co-ordinators were introduced in East Cheshire who worked alongside the neighbourhood teams to accept referrals for patients who can receive additional support. This aided in reducing the amount of unplanned hospital visits and enhanced the well-being of patients.
- Nail carer roles were introduced in Birmingham after the NHS identified more than 4,000 patients (mainly elderly) were attending its podiatry service simply needing their nails cut. By introducing the new support role for care that did not require the attention of a fully qualified podiatrist, this provided a cost effective alternative for routine nail care.