Building capacity among the nursing workforce to conduct economic assessments


OPM developed an Economic Assessment Tool (EAT) in 2010 to help generate evidence to sustain efficient and high quality public services in financially uncertain times. Driven by our conviction that people do not have to be ‘experts’ to understand the key issues and to engage, we designed an innovative programme around the EAT aimed at building the capacity among workforces and organisations to be able to start demonstrating the value of public services, and to use the intelligence to continuously transform and improve services.

What we did

We were awarded grant funding by the Burdett Trust for Nursing at the end of 2011 to deliver this programme of training and support to frontline nurses, and to facilitate the spread and adoption of EAT by the nursing workforce. This two-year funded project commenced in Scotland in January 2012, and is being rolled out to Wales and Northern Ireland in 2013. We are working with the Royal College of Nursing to deliver this programme. Two cohorts of up to 20 nurses in total are being trained in each country. Trained nurses have been and will be producing an economic assessment output each, with light touch support from OPM colleagues. Outputs have been and will be validated and quality assured, before being made available via the RCN’s website to the wider nursing workforce.

A dedicated Wiki page enables individual nurses to stay in touch with co-trainees as well as with colleagues from OPM and the RCN. The Wiki page has been supporting the sharing of resources, collective problem solving, sharing of experiences and sense-making. Trainees have also been using the Wiki page as a platform through which they provide encouragement and support to others. Earlier cohorts act as mentors to subsequent cohorts.


To date, evaluations have found that all nurses reported acquiring new skills, and that they have developed confidence in conducting economic assessments. The experience of undergoing the training has affirmed their conviction that understanding the economics underpinning their services is an integral part of their role. Feedback also shows that nurses have started using the intelligence generated to improve their own practice and to mobilise others to transform services collaboratively.

The programme has achieved endorsed award status from the ILM in July 2012. It is the only programme of its type in the UK that has gained such recognition. All trainees will be presented with a certificate upon successful completion of the programme.  Independent evaluation by the ILM concluded that the programme: “generated high quality work from the learners”.

“There is now a business case for service expansion to improve patient referral, thus improving wider patient symptom burden and ultimately reduce unnecessary admissions further. The project supported potential further savings hence managerial interest.”

Jill Nicholls, Heart Failure Nurse Specialist, NHS Tayside

“I have been able to analyse our service delivery and analyse outcomes to ensure an improved balance between patient and organisation.”

Lee Cowie, Nurse Consultant, Acute Services, Fife CAMHS