Health Workforce Planning Analysis


Purpose of the report

The introduction will look into the National Health Service with a view of understanding its human resource management and in particular the organisational workforce planning.

Background information

Human resource management mainly refers to the strategic and concrete approach towards the overall management of the human resources either individually and in groups. It mainly entails the employment, training and the subsequent utilisation and compensation of their services in accordance to the agreed terms (Joyce, McNeil & Stoelwinder, 2004, p.340)

Workforce planning is a very crucial aspect of management as it has gained considerable popularity in many public and privately owned corporations. Some corporations have taken a leap and are in advanced stages of integrating these aspects into the needs of their workforce (Mathis & Jackson, 2007, p.10-14).

Human resource planning involves an insightful look at the organization workforce and its ability to integrate planning aspects while compiling demand information of an organizations work force. It also encompasses availing of supply information, critical analysis of demand and supply gaps and coming up with working plans of action and well thought out strategies. Implementation of plans of action and strategies and putting in place monitoring and evaluation procedures are also integral in the HRP (Mathis & Jackson, 2007, p.10-14).

The workforce plan is a cyclical process that encompasses the training, career framework, workforce requirements, modernisation of the healthcare and related careers, expanding and new roles and the training numbers (WHO, 2009).

National Health Service

National Health Service is the largest public funded health service charged with the responsibility of providing health care services to the residents in the United Kingdom since its enactment in 1948. The institution has a total work force of 1.7 million with more 80 percent of them working in England. The NHS is mainly funded from taxation at the tune of 100 billion GB pounds as per the 2008/09 estimates with the bulk of the amount used in offsetting the salaries and wages. The Department of Health oversees the functioning of NHS (National Health Service, 2009, para. 10).

National Health Service has two sections with one dealing with issues related to strategy, policy and management aspects while the other deals with clinical aspects grouped into primary care and secondary care (National Health Service, 2009, para. 8).

Various levels within the NHS execute the planning mandate while the Department of Health playing the key role of directing all the activities (National Health Service, 2009, para. 6-7). The strategic health authorities and the primary care trusts (PCTs) are in charge of the planning activities within the trusts (Rivett, 2010, para. 12). The primary care trusts develop local plans that are imperative in describing improvements in the health and service in their jurisdiction. Workforce plans are also included in the local plans (Rivett, 2010).

This analytical paper endeavoured to identify a health organization and researched its approach to human resource planning and management taking into consideration how it develops human resource management plan and the strategies it has put in place to address its workforce needs. Evaluation of the strategies against human resource management framework to test whether they can comprehensively demystify myriad issues the organization face was undertaken.


The cross sectional study was conducted in the National Health Service of the United Kingdom. Data collection mainly relied on comprehensive literature review provide in the organisation website and correspondence with clarifications sought from the management. Permission to carry the aforementioned study was obtained from the relevant authorities in the university and the National Health Service.


Structures and processes of approach to the HRP and management

The National Health Service has a functional work force plan put in place in the early 2000 as part of the wide reaching reforms implemented by the Blair government. According to AHWAC (2004), workforce planning is mainly concerned with effecting a situation where there is continuous supply that commensurate the demand of the workers, thus ensuring there is adequacy in staffing particularly in the right place and time. The workforce planning function encompasses three main elements that generally revolve around the demand side, supply side and the interaction (Robbins et al, 2006, p. 134).

The national workforce plans in Scotland identified specific areas that needed further actions at the national level thus bolstering the achievement of the correct alignment in the workforce supply and the demand. In this respect, the NHS Scotland has implemented an oversight mechanism charged with the formation of a strong framework responsible for primary care workforce in liaison with the royal college of general practitioners. The NHS boards are empowered to exercise their authority over the management of the institutions (Scottish Executive, 2006, p. 68).

The NHS Scotland has also implemented a plan that has ensured that the recruitment and retention of staff is systematic in that there is progression of staff coupled with the considerable training that enhances their performance (Scottish Executive 2006, p. 60). The national workforce plan 2006 intended to assist the NHS boards and other health employers to know the source of their projected future workforce. It acted as an avenue for deciding the number of professional to undergo training in the different cadres of the health field while providing useful information about the future needs in training and the available supply pathways.

Analysis of the current workforce supply and requirements

The NHS Scotland reviews the workforce plan every year owing to the wide range of activities under its jurisdiction and the exposure to the dynamic environment. The reviews are in tandem with the evidence-based practice. This brings into fore the need to undertake trainings that are in line with the developments in the current health field. The changes are also informed by the pace of change that has meant that the NHS boards are put at task to initiate strategic planning aimed at helping them plan for the future. The biennial review of the workforce plan is to address the issue of staff costs; taking into consideration, they form the bulk of the NHS budget. More importantly, the planning helps the finance departments to develop an integrated programme that allows the linkage between service and financial planning (Scottish Executive, 2006, p.9). The collected evidence has served to provide important information and evidence useful in supporting workforce developments particularly at the local and national development (Robbins, Bergman, Stagg & Coulter, 2006, Chap. 12).

The NHS constantly consults relevant stakeholders who are instrumental in guiding the preparation of the organisation work profile. This is mainly due to the interconnectivity of the labour market and its vulnerability to changes in international markets propagated by the increased globalisation (Isouard et al, 2006, p. 120). The workforce evidence, collected from the stakeholders, is essential in deciding policies on ratio of the labour force to the population, income trends, trainings and development, the level of wages of the health care workers and appraisals (Joyce, McNeil & Stoelwinder, 2004, p.340).

Weakness and strengths of HRP

Human resource planning is concerned with acquiring and maintaining the right workforce to enable the organisation to serve the customer. According to Kleynhans et al (2006, p. 148), HRP is a systematic analysis of HR needs in order to ensure that correct number of employees with the necessary skills is available when they are required. Maintaining the employees to help maintain and deliver the labour remains one of the biggest concerns for every organisation. This is because of the intensity of poaching of talents among the organisations (Mathis & Jackson, 2007, p.150).

NHS has developed a mechanism where they train their employees on performing multi tasks while maintaining quality of work produced. Appreciation of HRP has helped the NHS to utilize to the maximum the available labour resources. Adoption of a flexible programme that allows the employees to further their career and improve on their performance and competence has furthered this cause. Recognition of the demand for skilled labour has encouraged the organisation in advocating for the importance for career development thus retaining employees and lowering turnover (Kleynhans et al, 2006, p. 148).

However HRP is not a through and through model hence has received criticism over it’s emphasizes on quantitative aspect of employees rather than the qualitative. NHS must not always hire more employees who they can develop inside the pool of the employees already in their organisation. Another weakness by the HRP is its dormancy in executing of its function (Kleynhans et al, 2006, p. 148).

Strategies for improving human resources planning and management

Organizations are continuously thriving to improve their human resource management in order to boost the workers satisfaction and motivation thereby affecting positively on their output. The NHS is obliged to address the hiring process, the diversity in the organization and management of the various teams in the workforce. It is therefore imperative for the organisation to invest in measures aimed at empowering the human resource thus boosting productivity in the end (Joyce, McNeil & Stoelwinder, 2004, p.340). NHS should invest in developing and subsequent implementation of a long-term workforce plan that reflects the human resource philosophy of the organisation (Gallos, 2006, p.123). The NHS should also delve in understanding the needs particularly when it comes to the workforce hence informing the hiring process. Development of an appraisal framework, job security and rewarding schemes will curtail or eliminate the staff turnover among the nurses (Harris, M. & Associates, 2006).

Organisations are obliged to review all the functions in their structure and management in order to evaluate the overall outcome of the organisation. To achieve this, the organisations are continuously developing internal trainings aimed at equipping the workforce with the advanced skills that are vital in enhancing their productivity (Gallos, 2006, p.123). More importantly, redesigning the work profiles of the specialists and nurses, fostering the interaction between the various teams, promotion of diversity can help NHS improve the functioning of its workforce (Hovenga & Lloyd, 2006, p.234; Department of Health, United Kingdom, 2006).

The NHS has constantly taken into consideration new evidence when undertaking their biennial review of the national workforce plan. The organisation should capitalise on this premise and implement more changes in their plan. The organisation still needs to address the issues on diversity, trainings and appraisal at the workplace. The NHS should therefore embark on matching the demand and supply of the workforce by regulating the trainings and registrations. The technological advancements should also be addressed by embarking on updating the syllabus and providing competency assessments achieved through internal skills training for healthcare (Scottish Executive, 2006, p. 8).

Level of implementation of the strategies

The NHS has always been in the forefront in conducting assessment on the labour demand and supply annually in order to ascertain the dynamics of the workforce. In this regard, the NHS assessment on the labour movement on each profession helps in understanding the underlying causes and in devising alternative strategies to bridge this gap. The NHS is also concerned with the regulation of the high numbers of the immigrant health workers by laying down procedures to protect the home grown supply from undue competition (Buchan, 2004, p. 17). For instance, during the 2006 review of the national work plan, measures to retain the homegrown supply of orthoptics and alternative strategies of encouraging the professional from other countries were addressed (Scottish Executive, 2006, p. 59). The NHS has also embarked on increasing the number of training places in a bid to ensure there is constant sufficient supply of labour in the healthcare facilities. For instance, the NHS increased the speciality training institutions in Scotland by 375 since the early 2001 while the institutions in the general category has recorded a rise of 30 facilities (Scottish Executive, 2006, p. 35).

Moreover, the NHS boards have set up systems aimed at developing and eventual analysis of the key drivers of change in the workforce. Provision of accurate data on the primary care and trends in the workforce has gained popularity taking into consideration the impact it has on the planning of the workforce at the regional and national levels (Doyal & Cameron, 2000, p.1034).


Workforce planning is a very crucial aspect of management as it has gained considerable popularity in many public and privately owned corporations. The NHS has embarked on implementing a regularly reviewed national workforce plan that is in tandem with the changes in the labour market. The NHS has employed several strategies that are vital in improving the overall performance of the human resource planning in the organisation in the last few years. The current approach implemented by the NHS has played a vital role in improving the overall development of the workforce planning in the UK health sector. The NHS has continuously tried to match the supply of the workforce with the demand. However, the NHS should strive to hire staffs who share in their philosophy in order to enhance the provision of quality specialist care. More importantly, it is imperative to integrate advanced trainings, improvement in working conditions and career development at all levels in the NHS.

Reference List

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