News and Comment

Empowering the public services workforce to demonstrate their impact: Lessons from the nursing profession

Friday 5 July 2013

“We have to get better at working as a business; to prove why we are needed and the difference we make. It’s not enough to feel you’re doing a good job”, said Poole Hospital’s Caroline Chandler earlier this month. Speaking at a seminar on how to prove the value of nursing, the Lead MS Nurse Specialist continued: “We need to prove this profession is valuable, not only in monetary terms, but most importantly in relation to improving patient outcomes”.

At the event, the second in OPM’s Valuing Public Services breakfast seminar series, and hosted jointly with the RCNand the MS Trust, over 70 delegates gathered to share innovative ideas about how to empower nurses to adopt evidence-based approaches to meet the quality and efficiency challenge.

As is well known, with spending cuts and large-scale transformations, the pressure on the nursing workforce – and the public service workforce as a whole – is immense. More than ever, they need to achieve ‘more for less’, and to learn how to grapple with these new and mounting challenges. This is coupled with a renewed focus on demonstrating the impact and economic value of the work they do to help justify the financial costs involved.

“The bigger role the workforce plays in efficiency drives, the more likely they are to be successful”, said OPM’s Dr Chih Hoong Sin, who argued that evidence can only be impactful if those responsible for using it feel a sense of ownership over it and know how to use it to continuously improve services.

Speaking of the fear that people without an economic background often have when tasked with proving economic value, the OPM Director reassured that ‘in fact, economics is what we do every day; it’s about how we engage with it…using these skills to transform care. It’s about being efficient but all the time focusing on improving patient outcomes”.

Dr Sin has worked with the RCN to champion nurse-led efficiency drives for several years now. OPM designed a programme of training and support to empower the public services workforce to understand how they can realise cash-releasing savings while maintaining high quality services. This programme has achieved endorsed award status from the highly respected Institute for Leadership and Management (ILM), and is the only programme of this type of have achieved this. In partnership with the RCN, and thanks to funding from the Burdett Trust for Nursing, OPM has been delivering this programme to nurses in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland since early 2012. This concludes at the end of 2013, and ongoing evaluation has already been demonstrating that it has helped to unleash the potential of the health service workforce to contribute proactively to the quality and efficiency agenda. It demonstrates where real efficiency savings are being made, as well as highlighting areas where there is further potential for savings.

“It’s given me the confidence to influence and I’ve learnt so much personally and professionally. I’m able to show and prove what I do, and the difference that makes to quality care”, said Jill Nicholls, Heart Failure Specialist Nurse for NHS Tayside.

Interview with Jill Nicholls of NHS Tayside on demonstrating the value of nurse-led services from OPM on Vimeo.

“It reinforced to me that I’m the expert in what I do. By taking the lead in looking at the statistics that my service generates, we’ve been able to identify key issues and solutions to them. We’ve built such a good relationship with patients, providing them with care plans focused on them as individuals, that our feedback survey had a 90% response rate; with 100% of those people rating the key elements of the service as either very good or excellent. That’s what it’s all about – providing excellent care.”

A number of participants have already contacted us about our programme that was discussed during the seminar and how they can use it to build their own capability to demonstrate the economic impact of their services. This programme is relevant and applicable across all public services and not restricted to nursing or to the health sector. If you would like to speak to one of our team about how you may be able to benefit from the programme, please get in touch at or call 0845 055 3900.

Download our guide to valuing public services.

To watch the full webinar of the event, please email Rosie Keefe.