Family circle

22 / 10 / 2014 12.12pm

Age is something that we all know something about. It is also a “protected characteristic” under the Equality Act 2010 – and therefore an area that all NHS organisations need to give due consideration to in respect of their workforce planning.

This month we wanted to highlight how NHS organisations can work towards advancing workforce age diversity.  As part of this Paul Deemer has written a blog called 'Coming of Age', which focuses on the discussions around age, as well as his experience of growing up.

Key facts, figures and Information

  • In terms of workforce planning, NHS Employers produced an infographic earlier this year showing the age profile of the overall NHS workforce. This revealed some interesting statistics, such as, 47% of the NHS workforce is aged 45 or over – compared to an average 40% for the English working population? And did you know that only 5% of the NHS workforce is under 25 – compared to an average of 12% for the English working population?
  • According to the UK Commission on Employment and Skills, the number of health professionals needed over the next decade is set to increase 13.4%, and engaging older staff will be key to meeting increased skills demands.
  • The NHS Working Longer group reported  that the health service as an employer has to tackle a wide variety of challenges which health professionals face as they age: deteriorating eyesight and motor skills (a concern of surgeons); the physical strain of lifting and handling patients (cited by nurses); the risks associated with working in hazardous work environments (noted by paramedics) and the stress of working in an increasingly taxed health service (mentioned by almost everyone). The review found that managing age would require a toolkit of interventions covering health, adjustments to work patterns, learning job rotation and assistive technology. 

Tips and examples of good practice

  • manifesto has been published by the Ready for Ageing Alliance - which comprises of Age UK, Alzheimer’s Society, Anchor, Carers UK, Centre for Policy on Ageing, the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK), Independent Age and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation - recommend supporting employees to stay in good health for longer. Older people should be given adequate support to work beyond retirement, including careers advice and back to work programmes for people in their 50s and 60s, flexible working and gradual retirement. Carers of older people should also be afforded more flexible working conditions to ensure they can stay in work and support the demographic changes taking place. 

Further guidance, advice and support:

  • We have produced a suite of information and guidance on how to manage an ageing workforce.
  • As part of the work that your organisation is doing in respect of the Equality Delivery System, you should be looking at the age profile of both staff and patients so you can see if there are any patterns or trends that need to be addressed. To help you analyse your staff data please look at our equal pay audit toolkit.
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