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Designing a new national workforce modelling approach for Primary Care

The NHS Long Term Plan (LTP) committed to strengthening the general practice workforce through supporting the recruitment of 26,000 additional roles and more than 6,000 GPs into General Practice. Achieving this commitment will require some innovative solutions. SCW was asked to support the challenge.

Working with the national team we designed and developed innovative workforce modelling tools to support the achievement of both the GP and ARRS recruitment targets. The tools use multiple data sources and support the sophisticated segmentation of workforce groups. The tools are supported by a data-led strategic communications plan to target different stakeholder groups. Following the success of this initial stage, we have been asked to support the next stage of this programme.

The Challenge

Recruiting 6000 more doctors and a further 26,000 additional roles into General Practice is a key commitment for strengthening the general practice workforce in the NHS Long Term Plan (LTP).

In order to support this bold ambition and enable the use of data-driven insights to inform interventions supporting both the recruitment to and retention in the roles, NHSEI sought expertise, advice and guidance from SCW to inform policy development, measure and monitor the achievement of the ministerial mandate and communicate the progress made and associated impact.  

What we delivered 

SCW worked alongside the national team to identify and implement a new methodology. We provided a robust but agile Programme Management approach and access to primary care and workforce development subject matter expertise. Bringing together relevant data sets to provide insight and predictions enabled a strengthened strategic approach to give clear guidance for future planning. 

 Led by engagement with leaders from across general practice, SCW produced a GP workforce segmentation model to enable the targeting of interventions, including:

  • The GP Retention programme, 
  • General Practice Fellowship Scheme
  • New to Partnership Payment Scheme
  • GP Return to Practice Programme

Supporting the review and design of the above interventions we worked alongside the national team to conduct qualitative engagement and evaluation. This sat alongside the data-driven insights to provide additional insight on factors influencing the uptake and retention of partnerships.

Working with the professional bodies we were able to map the career pathways into the roles under the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS). Modelling approaches for these roles were informed by the identified career pathways for each of the roles and focused on the demand for and availability of a workforce aligned to these roles.  

Having delivered the initial tool looking at the recruitment to the Additional Roles, we worked with key stakeholders to produce a report on the compliance levels of the National Workforce Recruitment Scheme (NWRS) providing recommendations for improvement.

One of the requirements of the project was to meet commitments for information for ministerial briefings. Our review of the data sources available for this purpose resulted in recommendations for additional data and agreed principles for carrying out this analysis.

Key to the success of the project was a  strategic communications plan focussed on the workforce and produced in collaboration with Health Education England (HEE) and NHSEI. This ensured that the strategy and policy developments were informed by and communicated to stakeholders. 

The data and insight we developed continue to inform the development of the change story around both schemes with appropriate versions of the change story for different stakeholder groups.  

The Impact

  • The GP workforce segmentation developed by SCW is now in use as a framework for policy development and generating new interventions
  • The workforce modelling tool provides the ability to forecast supply for each of the roles included in the ARRS, at a national and regional level, and compare this to forecast demand.
  • Due to the improvement in data collection approaches and compliance levels, the Primary Care Workforce PCN Module can now deliver established threshold monitoring for recruitment and regular data quality reporting. This is shared with Primary Care Networks via Regional Leads.
  • The modelling tool developed will support the forecasting of the supply and demand of the workforce more effectively at a regional level. The methodology established can also support the modelling of recruitment to other roles using appropriate data sets
  • Our integrated programme management approach enabled significant efficiencies to be realised through identifying interdependencies and alignment between and across various workstreams and organisations, such as Health Education England, Department of Health and Social Care, and Public Health England 
  • Initial feedback on the project from NHSEI has been positive, accompanied by a genuine desire to work with the SCW team again.

'It’s been a real pleasure working with you and I’m grateful for how you seized the problem that we’re trying to solve and been so accommodating and a thought-partner in solving it with us. I know that we’re not quite done yet – but that doesn’t negate the enormous thank you!'

Emily Henderson, Deputy Director Primary Care Workforce, NHS England and NHS Improvement

To find out more about the primary care support we provide contact Alison Westmacott, Director of Primary Care Transformation, and for the workforce support we provide This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.Associate Director – Workforce,  


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