Health Education England (HEE) describes Training Hubs as integral to its core purpose of supporting the delivery of excellent healthcare and health improvement to patients and the public through ensuring the primary care workforce of today and tomorrow are trained in the right numbers, have the necessary skills, NHS values and behaviours at the right time and in the right place. Training Hubs’ great contribution to workforce is acknowledged nationally. It is also recognised that there remains variation in priorities, activities and maturity of the Training Hubs. The common operating framework is therefore designed to enhance and provide assurance with respect to Training Hubs’ functions, governance structures, stakeholder relationships and operating model with development around Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) /Integrated Care System (ICS) level training hubs and locality Training Hubs.

We have been involved in the development and management of training hubs from their inception in 2014 in London. Our involvement in workforce activities includes both local and STP/ICS level engagement in a range of programmes linked directly with clinical workstreams, managing the primary care workforce work plans.

When engaged to carry out health checks, we would be bringing in our highly experienced teams to share our experience, knowledge and skills to deliver our services, working closely with your stakeholders for the Training Hub, examining infrastructure, governance and core functions as described in the common operating framework and guidance, whilst carrying out mapping against the maturity matrix, providing a clear road map to achieve maturity.

We adopt the main principles of well-known methodologies such as Prince2 and MSP (Managing Successful Programmes) for programme and project management, based on experience drawn from vast number of projects we have managed so far.

Our consultants work on-site with organisations to provide them with outcome driven support to achieve long-term improvements and measurable results.

We follow below stages which we think are minimum requirements to manage successful projects:

Identification – Pre-Project

We understand the importance of getting a project right from the outset; working with organisations to brainstorm ideas and offering expert advice and guidance in setting a clear vision that is vital in leading a project. In this stage, the project or programme is scoped and a project brief is developed; the strategic fit and vision is defined with a clear business case, and the main project documentation drafted.

Definition / Initiation

Successful project initiation is critical to the success of project delivery; however, not all organisations give this phase of project management the attention it needs. The long-term success – or failure – of a project is often dictated by what a project management office does or, rather, does not do. In this stage, the project is fully defined, and the documentation finalised and agreed. The project governance is developed and the required structures including the project board are established. Project deliverables are also fully developed within this phase and the final timeline and project budget are agreed by the project board. Outcomes and benefits are mapped out and their monitoring and measurement agreed.

Delivery

The delivery of the project is managed using fit for purpose structures and tools. Reporting mechanisms are established to make sure required management controls are in place, and any issues observed are captured through the registers and logs. Any necessary changes to the project are controlled through the change request process, ensuring that all changes are agreed by the project board and documented.

Closure

The project closure ensures that project’s performance is reviewed by comparing to baseline documents, all lessons learned throughout the project are assessed and benefits mapped out. Any benefits that have not been realised yet are handed over to the ‘business as usual’, together with a high-level evaluation of the deliverables.

Long term relationships have always been at the heart of our business. Through our commitment to quality, we focus on what really matters – creating strategies and delivering programmes that will leave a lasting legacy.

A systematic and objective assessment of an ongoing or completed project is an integral part of our approach. Through project evaluation, we aim to determine the level of achievement of project objectives and its impact. Evaluation also captures lessons learned and suggests ways that future projects can be improved with this learning.

Commissioning an independent evaluation to look at what has and has not been achieved, provides a credible evidence base to demonstrate the projects’ success, and ensures issues that may have buried themselves in the busy activity schedules within the project environment are uncovered and captured. This helps future projects to be designed with the lessons learned.

We apply a structured approach to evaluate projects and offer two different services:

  • Integrated Project Evaluation: In this approach, we are not involved in the actual delivery of the project but start capturing information right from the project initiation phase and continue the evaluation until the project closure. This ensures that there is an independent “third eye” over the project delivery, and stakeholders are actively supported throughout the process to exhaust all opportunities to understand projects success, issues, risks, lessons and any areas for improvement. Through this approach, the evaluation could become a tool to implement change, where possible, in real-time and might lead to better outcomes.
  • Post-Project Evaluation: This approach will help the stakeholders understand how each step of the project has impacted on the project outcomes, and clearly identify the outcomes and benefits that have begun to be realised. The focus of the evaluation therefore will be confirming that the outcomes and benefits are being realised as originally envisaged when the project was set up. As part of this, all project documentation will be reviewed to ensure that the journey was sufficiently documented, and to suggest reasons behind the success or failure of the project.

We also offer a project health check review service, which may be more suitable for projects with a longer time-span. This could help the project management team to change the project activities in order to re-align with the business case and desired outcomes. As part of this, we can work with the project team to review the project documentation, meet with stakeholders, assess the financial health of the project, identify actions to bring deliverables back on track and produce a review report to help change the project for improved outcomes.

As workforce plans need to be considered as part of future service delivery models linked with commissioning intentions, the connectivity between service planning (new care models), financial considerations and workforce remain crucial.

The NHS spends almost 65% of its operational budget on its most valuable asset: its staff. Therefore, development of existing as well as recruitment of new staff linked with the demand/supply/retention issues continue to be key priorities. Given that more than 50% of today’s workforce will still be working in the health service in 2032, we can provide you with support to up-skill, develop, and train your workforce including innovative approaches such as apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships are structured training programmes which give your staff a chance to work towards a qualification. The key is that they are employer driven – because you know best when it comes to the skills and knowledge required for your service.

Through apprenticeships you can offer your current workforce opportunities to:

  • re-train and up-skill to meet the service demand,
  • support career pathways to ensure that you have the right people, in the right place, with the right skills at the right time,
  • develop great leadership capabilities across your organisation,
  • improve your recruitment offer and to create a talent pipeline.

We have been involved in the establishment of Primary Care Networks (PCNs) right from the beginning in a number of localities, leading on the workforce planning and development. The introduction of PCNs brought with it a number of challenges, which we helped to address, as well as unprecedented opportunities for system connectivity and integrated care.

We are acutely aware that PCNs have been struggling with multiple priorities, that are mainly in relation to their establishment, and expectations of them in relation to new roles and specifications. Each PCN has a Clinical Director (CD) appointed. One of the major areas of consideration for PCNs and GP Federations is workforce: both understanding it and how it needs to change and develop in order to meet the aspirations and commissioned outcomes.

There is limited information in relation to existing workforce within PCNs/GP Federations, and how certain elements of workforce development could be coordinated better with shared resources. The PCNs have unprecedented opportunities to forward the workforce development and planning agenda in their local areas both in terms of widening participation, in increasing the education and training placements, and activities to upskill their workforce. This requires careful planning and support, as well as interfacing infrastructure that involves GP Federations and PCNs.

In a number of different areas, we have been working with stakeholders to engage PCNs in workforce development agenda across health and social care. We have also been delivering targeted projects to map the current PCN based workforce and skills, and carried out training needs analyses to support them in developing their workforce to meet the changing expectations.

We can provide targeted support at GP Federation level or PCN level to assess the current workforce, map its skills-set against service expectations, identify gaps and suggest innovative solutions to address these, including maximising opportunities associated with new roles. We have also worked with individual general practices to identify training needs and develop workforce development plans in response.

NHS England, NHS Improvement and HEE defined a clear national strategic vision in Primary and Community Care Training Hubs document that was published in March 2020. It outlines ‘the ambition for training hubs to co-ordinate the education and training programmes throughout the careers of all disciplines and a commitment to further develop training hub infrastructure enabling them to: 

  • Support workforce planning at ICS/STP and PCN level 
  • Advise on, develop and deliver educational programmes to develop the workforce 
  • Assist in ensuring adequate capacity in the training of the primary care workforce 
  • Advise, develop and facilitate primary care recruitment and retention strategies 

Working directly with both ICS/STPs and PCNs, training hubs should play a key role in supporting the development and delivery of workforce strategy across the system.’

Having significant experience in establishing and managing local training hubs, we can provide targeted support to training hubs to improve their understanding of PCNs in their area and establish structures to engage their PCNs in delivering a primary care driven education and training network.