As the largest employer in the UK and one of the most comprehensive public health systems globally, the National Health Service (NHS) has always had unique challenges in workforce recruitment and retention. These challenges exist across every department, but in 2023, amidst the myriad of headlines concerning the NHS’s workforce issues, it appears they are particularly prominent within its IT departments.
In this short piece we’ll explore how Managed Service Providers (MSPs) can play a significant role in alleviating these pressures and enabling a more productive workforce, especially when it comes to delivering specific, valuable skill sets.
As an individual, the motivation to join the NHS is often driven by a desire to make a significant difference and contribute to an organisation focused on delivering the best possible service to its patients. After all, we are all customers of the NHS. However, the complex nature of the organisation calls for concerted efforts towards fostering a culture where everyone, regardless of department or role, feels connected, engaged, and capable of making a difference. The NHS Long Term Workforce Plan (LTWP) underscores the importance of breaking down barriers and promoting a more integrated, holistic approach.
But the question arises: amidst the rising workloads and mounting pressures, how often do IT teams in the NHS get a chance to engage with their clinical colleagues about more than just a malfunctioning laptop or slow log-on times? How often do clinical teams have meaningful conversations about the state of IT and how it could be bettered to improve patient healthcare and outcomes – and without the frustration of slow applications or system glitches getting in the way?
We must reinforce our values and ensure that teamwork trumps autonomy.
This lack of cross-departmental engagement hinders the ability of teams to work together effectively. As Sir David Dalton, CEO at Salford Royal aptly noted, “teamwork trumps autonomy”. This is where Managed Service Providers (MSPs) can play a crucial role.
MSPs, by their very nature, assume responsibility for specific IT services, allowing NHS IT teams to free up resources and focus on strategic initiatives, like enhancing the end-user experience for clinical staff and patients. With access to proven tooling, processes, and a dedicated team of IT professionals, MSPs can help the NHS maintain high service levels while keeping up with the rapid pace of technological change. This could be for a prolonged period of time (typically on an outsource agreement) or could be a short-term, project-based piece of work.
In this new MSP-led model, the NHS IT teams have the ability to focus on fostering relationships with clinical colleagues, understanding their needs, experiences and challenges, and collaborate on solutions that truly make a difference. In turn, clinical staff can concentrate on delivering excellent patient care without the nagging worries about IT issues.
These hugely valuable conversations need to additionally extend into data hosting and security, as the NHS will always be a target for malicious digital criminals. The conversation between IT and the huge number of departments across a Trust simply must cover cyber security prevention, detection and remediation – this is a prime area where an experienced, proven and regulated MSP can add day-one value!
For the NHS to fully realise its ambition of digitally enabled care, the approach towards IT management must evolve. It’s about more than just maintaining systems; it’s about ensuring that these systems support and enhance the critical work done by every member of the NHS team. It’s about empowering a productive workforce by fostering a culture of collaboration and support.
Why not start with a simple step? Why not grab two cups of coffee – one for a chat with Quadris about managed services, and another to sit down with a colleague from another department? The future of the NHS depends on teamwork and collaborative solutions – let’s start building them together.
About the author
Chris is hugely experienced in healthcare IT systems, having spent the last twenty years working with the NHS in senior roles with Intel, GE, CliniSys and Dell Technologies. As the NHS lead at Quadris, Chris is helping drive the conversation around driving technical change, securing systems and moving to the cloud. You can reach Chris by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.