The challenge of recruiting thousands of digitally skilled personnel into the NHS is mirrored across all sectors and amplifies the issue. The plan looks to a more flexible apprenticeship Levy, an Employment Bill, and an online Digital Skills Toolkit to help individuals and employers identify accredited courses to boost digital skills. All meaningful initiatives, but not short term fixes. As with many challenges in the NHS, short, medium and long term objectives need to be developed to build confidence and assurances.
An approach that gradually breaks out of the status quo (i.e. creates a newly skilled & sticky workforce environment) will have a higher chance of success, and details such as the whole reward picture of working in the public sector are disclosed to the job market (i.e. a crude comparator of salary will never win hearts and minds). Similarly, aligning skills frameworks across the private and public sector, such as the Digital, Data and Technology (DDaT) framework (surprisingly absent within the recently published NHS workforce plan), the SFIA framework (that defines the skills and competencies required by professionals who design, develop, implement, manage and protect the data and technology), and gradually moving to a chartership model for more senior positions to value digital engineering, will pay better dividends.
A number of opportunity focus upon business growth challenges, from supporting start-ups to scaling and supporting foreign entrants to the UK market. Its pleasing to reflect upon the work of Academic Science networks and other organisations in this space, and interesting to understand that healthcare is not alone in many of the challenges being faced. Yet we still learn of SMEs in the UK and abroad whom face barriers to entry and we await the reformed procurement processes to see if they, at last, bear fruit.
Open data (i.e. not open source coding) features in the plan and highlights the UK’s global standing. A common sentiment within healthcare circles, irrespective of any quoted position on a UN E-Government Index, is that embracing open data to the extent proposed via the national strategies lacks marketplace assurances bar a small number of applications. Moving to a true open data architecture is a significant undertaking for purchaser and supplier, requiring new commercial models, that must be driven through the supply chain with the correct levers applied and rewards dangled by the procuring authorities. The reality maybe re-engineered product commercial models that mitigate the loss of some service offerings.