Reflections on IHPN’s Annual Summit

The Independent Healthcare Providers Network (IHPN) brings all types of independent healthcare providers together, supporting the delivery of great patient care. Alex Ryan, Group Director of Service Development, attended the IHPN’s ninth Annual Summit which explored the challenges and opportunities facing independent healthcare providers in a rapidly changing health system.

Acacium Group’s Workforce Solutions Director Scott Siwicki, responds to insights shared from government and industry leaders in a session entitled ‘Workforce, workforce, workforce: what does the future hold?’.


A topic at the forefront of the IHPN discussions was the critical nature of talent retention. The publication of the long-awaited NHS Long-Term Workforce Plan reinforced what we’ve long known: it’s not just about attracting skilled professionals to the healthcare sector, it’s about keeping them.

Beyond the financial and operational costs of employee turnover, poor retention disrupts patient care and undermines the stability of healthcare organisations. As providers, we must implement robust strategies and programmes to retain a skilled and diverse talent pool. 

To be effective, these initiatives must go beyond competitive salaries and benefits. They should include ongoing professional development, training, opportunities for career advancement, and employee recognition underpinned by a supportive and positive work culture. 

Employee wellbeing is paramount in an environment characterised by high stress, long hours, and emotionally taxing situations. As employers, we have a duty to the workforce, which starts by knowing how they feel and understanding the barriers they face. We’ve seen the value of this first-hand with the launch and results of Acacium Group’s Viewpoint programme. 

Collecting employee feedback from the frontline has had a transformative impact on our approach and provided valuable, actionable insights for our private and NHS clients. Temporary staffing sentiments act as a barometer for the wider workplace culture. Trusts that have implemented changes based on this feedback see this reflected in the productivity and engagement of their substantive workforce.

Data forms the bedrock of effective workforce management. These insights provide a deep understanding of what employees truly value. They allow healthcare organisations to craft compelling Employee Value Propositions (EVPs) and make informed decisions in creating policies and initiatives to keep their teams engaged.

A concentrated effort in training

IHPN welcomes different perspectives and politics, but one area where there was real consensus was the need for the independent sector to step up and provide training.

It’s no secret that the NHS holds its training standards in the highest regard, taking immense pride in providing world-class training to healthcare professionals. The question is, would they be willing to extend the same level of trust to independent providers? In the face of some likely initial apprehension, the onus should be on working together to ensure that best practices and the latest healthcare advancements are accessible to professionals in both settings.

One crucial aspect of resolving this issue is bridging the gap in training and education. A potential solution could be establishing a shared competency framework. Practically, this might involve standardising training programmes, certification requirements, and continuing education opportunities for healthcare professionals. This approach could also serve to promote knowledge-sharing and collaboration between the public and private sectors, resulting in better patient outcomes across the system.  

Collaborative training initiatives also offer a latent opportunity to create a reciprocal relationship between the public and private sectors. The key would be a rotational approach that ensures a shared responsibility in training healthcare professionals, enabling them to seamlessly transition between public and private without a perceived drop in the quality of their training or expertise.

This would not only benefit healthcare professionals by providing them with more career flexibility but also ensure a consistent level of care for patients, regardless of whether they are treated in the public or private healthcare system. By exploring different ways to facilitate learning opportunities, healthcare providers can create a compelling proposition for talent, attracting and retaining the best in the field. There are some excellent examples of this happening in some areas and expanding this approach to further specialities and geographies is key.

Workforce transformation 

The healthcare industry is at a crucial juncture where effective workforce management is the key to meeting system-wide goals. The backbone of any healthcare organisation is its workforce, and like the patients they care for, every healthcare worker is different. Employers who have undertaken a comprehensive assessment of the composition of the workforce, their skills, training needs, and their alignment with the organisation’s mission and values, are well placed to make informed decisions about their staffing strategies.

This approach should also extend to diversity and inclusion, a societal and strategic imperative. Understanding workforce demographics, inclusion policies, and employee experiences is critical to providing insights into equality, diversity and inclusion practices. This can guide healthcare providers in fostering a more inclusive and equitable work environment, benefiting employees and patients. 

The path to transformation involves a holistic workforce approach. Workforce providers should consider harnessing specialist diagnostic tools and expertise to evaluate their processes, technology, costs, and employee experiences. The insights derived from these assessments provide the foundation for a transformative roadmap for an organisation’s talent. This forms the blueprint for making aspirations a reality.

Healthcare organisations seeking to align their workforce with their long-term goals will improve efficiency, inclusivity, and cost-effectiveness to improve the sustainability of the healthcare system.

Moving forward

The Independent Healthcare Providers Network’s Annual Summit highlighted key issues that require our collective attention and action. If you’d like to discuss opportunities to drive positive change in your organisation, please reach out;