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Health & care staff response to COVID-19 in the running for national award

A special staffing operation set up to support the COVID-19 effort within the Frimley Health and Care Integrated Care System has been shortlisted for a prestigious national award.

The System Workforce Bureau is one of the finalists in the Workforce Initiative of the Year category at the HSJ Awards – a leading national health awards programme.

The Bureau – a form of internal system-wide workforce bank – was established within a week in March 2020 to meet the sudden, urgent need for staff redeployment and planning to cope with the demand of the pandemic.

By early June it had allocated 326 staff members to a variety of roles across a range of health and social care organisations within the system.

This allowed all organisations to share the burden of the COVID-19 effort together and also to benefit equally from the work of the Bureau.

Julian Emms, Chair of the Frimley Health and Care ICS People Board, said: “The shortlisting of the System Workforce Bureau for this highly sought-after national award is great news and reflects the esteem in which its work is held.

“The Bureau was set up in very little time and quickly proved its worth by identifying where the demand was and matching the right people to the required tasks.

“This important work allowed frontline staff across the system to focus on their vital roles.”

Examples of the ‘appointments’ made by the Bureau include members of a staff training hub being redeployed to set up a phlebotomy service for shielding patients, student nurses being supported in working in settings not normally available to them as training choices, NHS Continuing Healthcare team members being diverted to support hospital discharge planning and NHS commissioning staff being drafted in to undertake reviews. Many professionals who signed up as part of the Bring Back Staff campaign to attract former healthcare workers were deployed in frontline positions.

Mr Emms added: “The success of the Bureau demonstrates how well our system partners work together and how determined we all are to explore any and all opportunities to improve our performance in the face of the biggest challenge any of us have ever known.

“Operating the System Workforce Bureau is a constant learning process and we will continue to put our new-found knowledge to good use in improving the Bureau for the ongoing pandemic and to see how we can use it to increase our effectiveness in other ways in future.”

Frimley Health and Care