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Check out our latest views and thoughts

Top five tips for tackling NHS capacity challenges and patient waiting lists

While normality is returning post-pandemic, the NHS has been left with a waiting list of 6.1 million people for non-urgent operations. Two years’ worth of stress on NHS staff has meant that workforce wellbeing has reached crisis point in some areas. Effective workforce management will be key to tackling the backlog and easing the pressure on staff. But how can this be implemented?

1. Understand capacity

Insight and data are key. Developing a clear understanding of the current workforce capacity within the various specialities and comparing this with service requirements will highlight pain points and quantify the shortage of resources. Many factors will influence this, such as:

  • National specialty guidelines
  • Volumes of patients
  • Local geography
  • Patient demographics

2. Modelling workforce options

Workforce modelling, as part of a job planning processes, involves assessing staffing requirements and testing various solution scenarios. It enables clinicians to articulate the requirement and helps to keep a clear focus on the needs of patients and workforce. Balancing benefits and costs are integral to this process.

Looking at the availability of consultants could help determine whether additional people are required or whether they are just needed at a weekend. This could help balance the costs of recruiting new staff and ensure the right mix of weekday and weekend doctors. Other important aspects to consider are the location of staff and how consultants’ caseloads vary depending on their specialty.

3. Avoid single points of failure

Preventing pinch points within the workplace is vital. By creating a process-orientated culture alongside a people-focused approach should reduce single points of failure.

For example, currently, common practice is for all staff calling in sick to phone a single ward manager. As a result the ward manager is then responsible for filling staffing gaps. An improvement to this process could be the creation of a central team for handling longer-term sickness absences. This would then free up the ward manager’s capacity for handling immediate patient issues.

4. Understand that change is personal

The relaxation of pandemic-related restrictions across the UK means that many areas of life are getting back to some kind of normality. However this is not the case for the NHS. Capacity issues mean that workers are constantly in firefighting mode, and the impact of this cannot be underestimated.

When driving forward transformation, it’s vital to recognise that change is extremely personal and can affect members of staff in different ways. Rather than simply presenting people with new processes and procedures, it’s important to engage workers to find out more about their personal challenges. Consequently these can inform a solution that suits them. This includes finding ways of working with people that are convenient and aren’t overly disruptive to their day-to-day, already pressurised work.

5. Collaborate with other teams

Collaboration with finance teams can help unlock additional capacity within NHS trusts. Working together closely enables staff delivering patient care to develop a deeper understanding of the complex financial structures of NHS trusts. This collaboration can also help to keep costs under control. By adopting a people-focused approach, NHS trusts can improve patient care while reducing costs and pressure on staff.

To learn more about how we are helping businesses with change challenges and how we can help you, get in touch.

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Eman Al-Hillawi on five steps to a more diverse consulting industry

Gender bias is something that many women, including myself, experience throughout their consulting careers. While this problem won’t be addressed overnight, focusing on the five areas below will help women to overcome common obstacles and rise to the top of the consulting industry:

1. Create a supportive network of female advocates

As it can already be more challenging for women to achieve success in the consultancy world, they need to work together and support each other. Having access to experienced female mentors, for example, through schemes such as the Santander Women Business Leaders’ Mentoring Programme, is also vital.

2. Encourage women to share negative experiences

Speaking out about experiences of gender bias and similar challenges promotes solidarity and enables women to receive advice from those who have been in their shoes. This would have been hugely valuable to me at the start of my career, when I often felt overlooked when in the company of my male co-founder (through no fault of his own!).

3. Tackle ‘imposter syndrome’

Building confidence is crucial to overcoming ‘imposter syndrome’, a common problem experienced by women in business. To do this, they need to focus on pushing themselves out of their comfort zone, while learning to trust their professional voice and talent.

4. Leverage the benefits of flexible working

Flexible working has already had a positive impact on people’s work-life balance but it’s important to keep building on these changes for the benefit of women’s careers. It’s now easier for women and men to manage family responsibilities alongside work commitments and through a focus on outputs rather than hours at our laptops, we can all get more out of our day and a healthier work-life balance.

5. Break taboos around medical issues

Breaking taboos around challenges posed by medical issues, such as the menopause, is vital to break biases in business. In order to build a strong culture of empathy and solidarity, we need to educate all areas of the industry about the challenges involved in health-related issues.

To help accelerate the progression of rising female consulting stars, we need to encourage close collaboration, while focusing on women’s capabilities and experience. By encouraging them to discuss their experiences, promoting the importance of mentoring and leveraging the benefits of flexible working, we can achieve a more diverse and rewarding consulting industry for everyone.

To learn more about how to kickstart your consultancy career at Entec Si, visit here.

Challenging change management myths

Change and business go hand in hand, however, the people side of change can present challenges. As a process surrounded by misconceptions, how can businesses overcome the myths that surround change management?

1. Make sure everyone is on the same page

People naturally fear change. Whether caused by previous experiences or approaches, this means teams can be resistant to the process. However, for transformation to be successful, employees must be on board, otherwise things can go awry and impact the whole business.

2. Explain the purpose of change

Change can be a powerful tool for good, with the potential to take an organisation to where it needs to go. As a result, job cuts are often not involved and change projects can deliver benefits for people across the business.

3. Communicate clearly with teams

Clear communication and engagement with employees are vital, as they are the ones who will be impacted by change. Keeping them informed, being understanding about their concerns, and providing support and training should be a priority. Similarly, demonstrating care for teams in this way can lead to more employee buy-in and improvements to company culture, such as increased flexibility, preparedness and agility.

4. Understand the mental impact of change

Change can impact people’s wellbeing, so it’s important to be able to recognise change fatigue. By tailoring their change approach, businesses can identify how people are impacted in different ways, and ensure employees are supported.

Change is an inevitable part of business life. In order that it’s kept positive, businesses need to demystify what it means for employees. Through communication, clarity and effective change management, decision-makers can ensure their business delivers ‘change for good’.

Want to learn more about change management, contact us.

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How to put communities at the centre of change

Collaboration with communities is a key way for local authorities to boost engagement and improve their services. Here are our top tips for how they can switch to a more collaborative approach:

1. Address the big issues

Financial pressures, challenges created by the pandemic, and the need to achieve net-zero, are at the front of everyone’s minds. Not only should local authorities focus on improving their local area, but they should also engage with communities to address the issues that impact everyone. This way, goals can be met more effectively and efficiently, including addressing ongoing budget pressures.

2. Use local knowledge

By reaching out to residents before going ahead with plans for a new project or initiative, local authorities can be sure that time and money are being put towards services that will truly benefit the community. Communities will also be more receptive to change if they are engaged with throughout the process.

3. Know the community

Effective engagement isn’t possible without knowing the ins and outs of the local people. Accurate data about the community’s demographics can make sure services are more targeted. Furthermore this means underrepresented groups are catered for.

4. Find the right balance

While communicating with local people is vital, too much consultation can lead to them feeling overwhelmed, and therefore becoming less willing to engage. Subsequently, by listening to the right people at the right time, this can be avoided.

5. Manage expectations

People want to know exactly what is being done with their feedback and how it will feed into service improvement. As such, it’s important to communicate this from the outset whenever sending out a survey or holding a consultation.

6. Make the most of resources available

Lack of budget is a challenge for many local authorities. Therefore to ensure the maximum value is gained from collaboration, it’s essential to make the most of all available assets and resources. For example, this might involve expanding the remit of a library to include information and volunteering centres.

Working alongside local people and communities can help authorities to make more informed decisions, and in turn improve the lives of those in the community. By keeping communication open and honest, and addressing concerns when needed, a perfect partnership can be created.

For more information, contact Peter Marsden or Julie Smith here.

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There’s always room for improvement

Change is something that many businesses have become used to over the pandemic, but transformation isn’t reserved for major global events. Organisations have had to adapt quickly, but improvement should be continuous, with processes, systems and infrastructure reviewed to ensure they’re the best they can be, enabling a faster response to change in future. So, how can this be done effectively?

1. Don’t be afraid to reassess

Following the successful rollout of remote working and other changes, businesses should be considering how this can be built on to suit longer-term business models from different perspectives, including staff and customers.

Those that were already investing in their people and technology have been able to hit the ground running but it’s important to re-evaluate procedures as time moves on. The ‘new normal’ comes with challenges, and now is the time to consider how to mitigate them going forward.

2. Make change work for the business

Organisations should consider which aspects of change suits their business model and address any perceived weaknesses. For example, although there have been a host of positives that have arisen from remote working, there have also been disadvantages, such as virtual interactions being more functional and collaborative working becoming more challenging.

3. Invest in technology and skills to enable organisational agility

Enabling people to work remotely, whilst transformative, is just a small part of technology’s potential. Investing in technology can be a catalyst to improve business processes, promote engagement and upskill staff.

As well as having the right infrastructure, data is key, and organisations should have the tools, skills, and capacity to analyse data from different sources effectively and respond quickly to new trends.

4. Bring people along for the journey

People are pivotal to the success of a change journey, and this is often overlooked. They should be involved in shaping its path throughout the process. Collaboration and survey tools can be used to help engagement with customers and staff. Their insight can help to outline the priorities and approach to transformation. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for effective transformation, so a holistic approach is essential. Improvement won’t happen in a day, but every change made is a step in the right direction.

To learn more about successful business change, contact Tamara Pleasant here.

Photo by Bethany Legg on Unsplash

Living the learning

During the last 10 months, despite maintaining high levels of chargeability, it’s apparent that I have learned more than ever before – with no training courses involved! 

The project I’m working on is large and complex. By closure it will have delivered in excess of 50 workstreams. A number of these are essentially projects in their own right (e.g., upgrades or Cloud migrations) and the rest vary in size and complexity.

I began working on these in a support role to the project manager. This provided an opportunity to become accustomed to the client’s preferred ways of working. It also enabled me to form sound working relationships with the project team. I then progressed to take ownership of three sizeable, but related workstreams.

Learning from the ground up

As I reflect on my development across this period, what strikes me is the sheer amount of knowledge and skills I have gained whilst I was focussing on delivery. I have been able to observe the project manager in action, watch the outcomes unfold and apply myself to the same scenarios. During this process I’ve gained immediate feedback and experience, which would wouldn’t be possible in a traditional learning setting.

This opportunity to observe, practise, review and refine has led to increased confidence and independence. I’ve been able to quickly obtain an understanding of both detailed and high-level project elements in real-time. All of these experiences have been incredibly valuable to my personal development and learning. During this process I’ve gained experience and confidence through exposure to all aspects of the project. With guidance and informal mentoring from the project manager, I’ve been able to up-skill myself and embrace the project in a practical sense.

The value of learning

As my skillset and confidence have increased, I’ve become more involved in the wider project. In particular this has led me to take ownership for new areas of work, providing value to the client, but also in the longer term, to Entec Si.

I’m thrilled to be able to progress my consultancy through these on the job learning experiences. The emphasis that Entec Si places upon development means that I’m growing both professionally and personally. By creating a supportive and practical environment that puts people at the centre of every process, we’re able to deliver better outcomes for our clients. I’m super excited to see where my learning journey will take me next!

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Contact us at info@entecsi.com