Exploring Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership’s strategic workforce plan, 2022-2025

Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership (ABHSCP) has recently released their Strategic Workforce Plan for 2022-2025. 

The plan is intended to support the Joint Strategic Plan for ABHSCP with a view to ensure that the right people with necessary skills are in place to deliver remobilised services following the COVID-19 pandemic. 

It also reflects the recently published National Workforce Strategy for Health and Social Care and will contribute, where possible, to ensure the implementation of many of the actions outlined in the overall strategy. 

In this piece, we will explore all three plans to examine how ABHHCP are tailoring their approach to meeting the national objectives, with focus on the health and wellbeing objectives they hope to achieve through ongoing joint collaboration.

Background context

We will start by looking at ABHSCP’s background to better understand their motivations going forward.

Firstly, ABHSCP highlights the importance of their employees in ensuring effective development and delivery of services. One of the highest risks, as noted in the Corporate Risk Register, is the “inability to recruit and retain the required workforce because of national workforce challenges and local challenges”, leading to increased costs from medical locums and agency staff.

The plan notes that effective workforce management is vital across the partnership in order to mitigate this risk, thus the delivery of the Joint Strategic Plan 2022-2025 must ensure a strategic workforce plan is developed that supports the attraction, recruitment, development and retention of the workforce. This will establish an ongoing sustainable delivery of services in the future; with mitigation of risks and overall workforce development driving the plans for strategic change.


Workforce planning has traditionally been led by the individual employer for a particular workforce, however the constituent organisations within ABHSCP have begun to work together across multidisciplinary teams in order to share methodologies and experience.

The Integration Joint Board along with managers, independent sector providers, professional leaders and staff-side representatives have held collaborative engagement sessions in order to develop the latest workforce plan which they have broken down into three areas:

  • Assessing the current workforce
  • Assessing future workforce requirements
  • Development of an action plan to fill the gap between present and future

Argyll and Bute Council workforce planning colleagues will also adopt a risk based approach to future workforce planning built around an assessment of likelihood and impact in relation to:

  • Ageing workforce
  • Recruitment
  • Succession planning
  • Skills

These areas help to create a picture of the overall risk rating, with the higher risk services receiving more targeted and frequent workforce planning support. This approach will be adopted across all employers within ABHSCP in the future as they continue to develop and refine their approach to workforce planning.

During the engagement sessions, they were able to identify strategic drivers for change, challenges and potential risks to retaining the existing workforce whilst learning how best to tackle future changes if required.

The Strategic Workforce Planning group will oversee the actions put in place from the engagement sessions and aid further development within the governance structure of the Transformation Programme, which we will discuss later.

This Strategic Workforce Plan covers the workforce involved in delivering all purchased services within ABHSCP’s remit, including independent providers operating within primary and social care. This does not include services commissioned from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

National Workforce Strategy for Health and Social Care

On 31 March 2022, the Scottish Government published the National Workforce Strategy for Health and Social Care that sets out a national framework for employers to achieve their goals of a more sustainable and skilled workforce.

We will explore it here to add context to ABHSCP’s plan.

The strategy lays out an overarching framework that supports boards and health and social care partnerships (HSCPs) to plan and deliver the workforce required for the future. It sets out the changing demands on the health and social care workforce and uses the five pillars approach as a basis for action. The five pillars are:

Plan – Develop a Remote and Rural Recruitment Strategy by the end of 2024. Analyse details in the three-year workforce plans and ensure the analysis is considered in policy development .

Attract – Work with partners to promote career opportunities in social care and deliver policies in developing the workforce. Expand employability programmes and increase funding to territorial health boards for international recruitment leads.

Train – Increase funded placements for midwifery and nursing across all training pathways. Develop social work advanced practice career pathways and employ national clinical skills for pharmacist programme for independent prescribing.

Employ – Recruit 320 additional CAHMS staff whilst working with the UK government to develop partnerships for individual countries – supporting direct access to international labour markets. Work with HSCPs to identify how local social care campaigns can be supported.

Nurture – Financial investment into mental health resources health and social care staff. Launch a national leadership development programme across all care organisations.

The implementation of the National Workforce Strategy will take place at both national and local levels, driven by the HSCPs and NHS Boards’ workforce plans.

ABHSCP’s Joint Strategic Plan

In June 2022, Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership published its three-year Joint Strategic Plan which details the priorities, visions, commissioning intentions and strategic objectives for the partnership. These can be broken down into four distinct areas, the first of which is titled ‘Choice, Control and Innovation’ which is based around improving the availability, approach and quality of care in the broader communities.

This will be achieved through ongoing collaboration with community-based services, advocacy boards and providers to ensure people are given the tools and information they need to make informed choices about their own healthcare.

The second priority area ‘Prevention, Early Intervention and Enablement‘ directly focuses on preventative services including a “shift to digital technology” using telecare and telehealth to reduce hospital visits and admissions. They will ensure that care providers are trauma informed and that patients are able to recover safely at home; limiting the amount of time spent in hospital.

‘Living Well and Active Citizenship’ is based around a long-term goal which sees HSCP staff, patients using the services, carers and families coming together to “support personal outcomes and empower service users” – with the hopes of fostering a community built on engagement and contribution. This objective makes clear their intentions to enable, rather than disable, the support of self-management, physical activity and independence within the wider community.

Finally, ‘Community and Coproduction’ will focus on working with communities, providers and advocacy bodies to set out a vision of coproduction for the community based services, supporting people with options and choice.

The Joint Strategic Plan also outlines key area of consideration for the partnership in moving forward with its strategy, including key workforce drives, challenges and supporting actions. These include financial position; demographics; life circumstances; and health and wellbeing status.

ABHSCP’s Strategic Workforce Action Plan

Finally we come to the strategic action plan that has been developed as a result of the above strategies.

A number of actions are laid out in order to mitigate the challenges facing the partnership over the next years. These include:

Developing fundamentals through partnership – develop regular huddle in partnership with Skills Development Scotland, Developing the Young Workforce, further and higher education providers, council education service and and more. Develop the infrastructure required to deliver the actions from the workforce plan. Implement the partnership approach to workforce planning, sharing best practice across employers. Develop the infrastructure required to support work experience and placements across the partnership.

Attracting the future workforce – Baseline current activity against the Investors in Young People Framework and use that to drive activity based on the attraction and employment of young people. Work alongside colleagues to develop a coordinated approach to raising awareness of the wide range of health and social care careers through engagement sessions in schools. Commission work to understand what could attract workers from outside the area. Build on the brand to develop a partnership approach to recruitment campaigns. Maximise the benefits of the international recruitment agenda within NHS Scotland.

Developing the future workforce – Develop peer support and mentor networks across the partnership. Maximise use of foundation, modern and graduate apprenticeship frameworks as entry pathways for young people. Consider use of multi-skilled generic care assistant roles as alternative pathway approach to support young people into professional roles. Develop approaches to graduate sponsorship. Develop an approach to develop the future consultant workforce.

Developing the current workforce to meet future needs – Review the current Growing our Own scheme and implement change to create opportunities. Develop a succession planning approach for key roles in the partnership that gives equality of opportunity to all. Ensure sufficiently resourced education infrastructure to enable professional development across all job roles. Complete assessment of readiness across the partnership for the Health and Care (Staffing) Act implementation in April 2024. Extend the use of Open University courses for nursing and social work.

Alternative workforce roles and models – Implement and maximise use of the Retire and Return policy. Continue to develop routes to grow your own. Assess and consider the use of Medical Associate roles.

Wellbeing and culture – Progress actions agreed through the Argyll and Bute Culture and Wellbeing group. Analyse i-matter survey results. Undertake a further Listening & Learning survey. Analyse progress from previous culture survey.

Accommodation – Review accommodation use and develop a strategic approach to use it to improve successful recruitments and support placements. Open an active dialogue with Scottish Government through the workforce plan. Establish a multi-agency approach to tackling the affordable housing situation, tailoring solutions to the locality as required. Continue to explore options in each locality to work with housing associations.

The full strategy is available to read here.