Many of you may have seen the following reminder:
"The Primary Care Network Workforce Planning Submission form is now open for you to make your 2023/24 submission. All PCNs are required to make this submission, even if they made a submission in August 2023.
Please submit your completed form before the submission closes at 11 PM on 28th October 2023.
If you have any questions regarding this process or need support with completing the national workforce planning template, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you experience any issues with the submission form itself, please contact email@example.com.
This means, if you haven't done so already, you need to submit a meaningful and achievable workforce plan which you can actually recruit to because...if you don't use it, you will lose it, and with the 5 year PCN DES coming to an end in March 2024, it's more important than ever to maximise recruitment to ensure you can maintain funding, moving forwards.
With this in mind, in this blog, we advise that you:
1️⃣ Review your workforce strategy
2️⃣ Review your PCN salaries
3️⃣ Review your supervision arrangements
4️⃣ Consider using staffing providers
5️⃣ Consider devolving some of your staffing budget
Let's jump in!
1. Offer a competitive salary
Keep in mind that recruitment is tough.
While it’s important to grant a salary based on skills and experience, it’s not uncommon for PCN staff with experience to be paid at the minimum threshold out of fear that wider general practice staff will find out and demand more.
So long as pay is transparent, along with clear communication of the difference in funding streams and responsibilities, PCN leaders should be able to settle on competitive salaries in order to retain staff.
🎯 Recommendation 1
Review your existing individual PCN salaries. Are any staff in the network due a pay review?
For further support, please see our blog; 'How to approach Primary Care Network pay rises in 2023 and beyond'.
2. Offer Training and Supervision
It's not just money that will sway people. Many people are looking for adequate support and development opportunities.
Whilst money may attract people initially, it’s organisational culture that will make them stay. Training and supervision is a fundamental part of this and without it, practices and patients are put at risk, and you are likely to lose team members if they feel they don't have sufficient support.
🎯 Recommendation 2
1️⃣ Supervision doesn’t have to be on a 1-2-1 basis. Group supervision is an option.
2️⃣ An end-of-day debrief should be scheduled in as standard practice.
3️⃣ Consider whether responsibility for supervision could be shared across a federation, or even in partnership with another PCN?
In terms of funding for supervision, this can come from:
1️⃣ Core funding
2️⃣ Leadership and management funding
3️⃣ The local access and capacity payment
To review all of the funding sources which are currently available to PCNs, please refer to our article here: '8 key finance questions every Primary Care Network Manager and Clinical Director should know in 2023'.
💡 Where this is a will… you most certainly can find a way .
3. Enhance your Recruitment and Retention Strategy
If you can offer competitive salaries, training and supervision, it's time to consider how else to stand out from the crowd as a potential employer and enhance your recruitment strategy.
Before you consider the following questions, always revisit and benchmark these against your network vision to aid your decision-making.
Questions for consideration
1️⃣ What is currently working well?
2️⃣ What does career progression look like in your network?
3️⃣ What flexibility can you offer?
4️⃣ What patient services do you offer?
5️⃣ How do you embed staff into the team?
6️⃣ How could you approach recruitment differently?
7️⃣ Are there clear standard operating procedures in place?
8️⃣ Can you offer a refer a friend bonus?
9️⃣ Are there any practice roles which could become network roles?
🔟 Are any benefits clearly outlined during the recruitment process?
1️⃣1️⃣ What is your maternity policy? Do you offer more than statutory maternity pay?
1️⃣2️⃣ Do you allow people to carry over their years of service if they are moving from a practice role into the PCN?
🎯 Recommendation 3
In your next PCN leadership and management team meeting, create or review your recruitment strategy and challenge yourself to make just a 1% improvement on how you currently do things.
Once you have run through the questions above, get advertising! Via social media, share with friends and family, share in your practice waiting rooms, on university job boards (depending on the role), schools, or even on local radio. Don’t be shy and do not stick to the usual recruitment channels. Think big and think differently.
4. Consider using staffing providers
Quite frankly, there is no time to lose as you need to allocate the funding fast. Along with the usual methods of recruitment, here is where staffing providers can help you, even if they aren't a preferred option.
Not only will they offer a competitive salary, provide training and supervision, and organise the rota, staffing providers can also be flexible and offer a bespoke solution to plug the gap, freeing you up to source a permanent member of staff and build the service internally meanwhile.
As you know. Pure Physiotherapy is our recommended provider if you are looking for either a First Contact Physiotherapist.
Don’t discount a provider just because you want to hire in-house. You can still be open for recruitment while they temporarily fill the post.
More information to help you understand the roles (and where to seek further support) can be found within THC Primary Care's extensive resource archive.
🎯 Recommendation 4
Identify a staffing provider and call them immediately!
5. Consider devolving some of your budget
Some networks have devolved their workforce budgets down to practices. Whilst this isn’t my preferred option, many networks have done this successfully. I would advise moving with caution and reading our article: 'The Unintended Consequence of Devolving your Primary Care Network Budget'.
If you set some clear parameters, this could be an option for consideration.
🎯 Recommendation 5
Read: 'The Unintended Consequence of Devolving your Primary Care Network Budget' and carefully consider what might work best or better for your PCN.
Lastly, it's important to highlight the challenge of gaining consensus within a network. There are many different motivations and personalities to manage, but ultimately, the goal is to attract and retain a dedicated workforce for now, and for the long term. If networks refuse to compromise, in the end, nobody wins.
We hope this helps.
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About the Author
I'm Tara; I am the founder of THC Primary Care, an award-winning healthcare consultancy specialising in Primary Care Network Management and the host of the Business of Healthcare Podcast, where we have now published over 250 episodes. I have over 20 years of project management and business development experience across the private and public sectors, and I have supported over 120 PCNs by providing interim management, training and consultancy. I have managed teams across multiple sites and countries; I have an MBA in Leadership and Management in Healthcare, I'm published in the London Journal of Primary Care, and I am the author of over 250 blogs. I have 3 children. My eldest has Asthma, my middle child has a kidney condition called Nephrotic Syndrome, and my youngest daughter has Type 1 Diabetes, so outside of work, healthcare plays a huge role in my life.