Policy analysis is the process of determining which workforce planning decisions are the most robust in the face of an uncertain future. The scale of the health and social care workforce, and the costs of training and employment, mean that at national level these are typically senior government decisions. However, decision-making can be made at lower levels of scale, across small workforce groups, geographic regions or individual enterprises.
Policy analysis is the final and most challenging part of the framework. It is here where information has to be critically assessed, options prioritised, and then presented to the decision-makers. Decisions are not always clear-cut. The future is, as we know, uncertain. Data and model limitations mean the outputs will always have uncertainty.
The policy analysis stage has been the subject of much research and development activity at the CfWI. This is ongoing but progress has been made in the following areas:
- We are understanding how policy analysis has been conducted across other disciplines as well as the NHS and workforce planning. This has been informed by a comprehensive literature review.
- How policy analysis links to other stages of the framework is another area being looked at. In particular we are examining the specific activities to frame and scope the nature of the policy interventions, define prospective policy levers for modelling, and agree measures of policy effectiveness.
- The nature of the decision-making process is another issue, along with how to present the impact of different policy options to decision-makers. This requires consideration of uncertainty, in addition to presenting the range of outputs across the examined scenarios.
- Policy analysis is discussed in more detail in technical paper 9 - Policy analysis: Applying robust decision-making to the workforce planning framework.