Role FleXX: Developing Resilience and Flexibility in the Health Workforce

Time: 4:55 pm - 5:15 pm

Date: 4.10.22 PM

We are experiencing a global health workforce crisis. The WHO predicts a shortage of 18 million health workers by 2030. The challenges with recruiting and retaining health workers has been worsened with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pressure on health workers has reached astronomical heights rendering nurses, doctors, and others on the frontline exhausted, stressed and burnt out. The worsening scale of the elective care backlog is placing an increasing strain on a fatigued workforce who are experiencing worsening mental health and wellbeing. To address the workforce crisis a transformational approach to workforce planning and strategy is desperately needed. Achieving this requires a two-pronged approach: a) developing workforce strategies in the short to medium term which create capacity through existing resources; and b) developing workforce strategies with a long-term view of bolstering the workforce through increased resiliency, flexibility, and adaptability. In 2019 colleagues at HKS published a study on flexibility titled “FleXX: A Study of Flexibility in Outpatient Settings”. The study presented four attributes of flexibility: versatility, modifiability, convertibility, and scalability. A key finding of their research was the importance of flexibility in enabling organisations to adapt in response to unpredictable external drivers. The opportunity for increased flexibility in healthcare settings is not limited to the built environment but applicable to time, resources, and roles. The use of flexible roles in hospital settings is not a novel subject. This presentation challenges health leaders to think about how the concept of flexibility can be used to address the capacity challenge through creating more versatile roles; using training to modify roles and scaling flexibility through ease of movement across hospital sites and whole health systems.

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