‘Value NHS Staff Before They Walk,’ Says KPMG
Ahead of the publication of the latest sickness absence rates across the NHS, Andrew Hine, UK head of public healthcare at KPMG, argues that the NHS must view its staff as more than a cost on the balance sheet, or risk creating a demotivated workforce suffering from increased absence levels and resignations.
He says: “For many years, debate over the future of the health service has focused on structural changes aimed at influencing the way patients receive care. As a result reform has often concentrated on organisational structures, regulation and the welcome explosion of clinical data being made available to doctors and the patients, themselves. The gap has always been, and continues to be, around the attention paid to our doctors and nurses – the very people at the heart of our healthcare system.
“Over the next few years as pay is controlled and posts are lost to help the NHS reach its £20 billion efficiency target, the temptation will be to see staff as a cost in need of reduction. But this approach is wrong – the NHS has a workforce to be treasured. After all, the skills they have creates value for patients and the training they possess provides a value to the health service which cannot be inexpensively replaced.”
Last year, NHS workers took an average of 15 days sick leave, according to data. More than one million NHS workers in England were absent from work for a combined 15.56 million days between 2011 and 2012.
“Anyone who has ever managed a healthcare provider will tell you that one of the key factors behind successful patient care comes from highly motivated staff and the key to motivation lies in maximising their clinical time. Doing so allows healthcare professionals to perform the job they always wanted to do – and minimises the costly alternative of trained nurses and doctors spending time on non-value tasks. The simple fact is that, for too long, we have been led by a belief that ‘cost walks on two legs’. It’s a mindset that has resulted in staff retrenchment and reallocation – moves that almost always turn out to be unproductive and evidence suggests that the costs always bounce back.
“The truth is that ‘value walks on two legs’ and if staff are to be motivated enough to show their value perhaps the answer lies in creating a short-term adjustment to working hours coupled with a clinical re-design. That way, staff will feel less pressure, costs will be reduced and both without impacting on quality of care.”