Trusts are generally positive about the benefits of system working, and keen to progress integration. The case studies in this report demonstrate the innovative and bold approaches trusts are taking to system-wide workforce development. Many describe a burning platform on which to act, others recognise the value of working towards shared goals to improve the health of the population.

Across the country, trusts are contributing to diverse approaches to workforce planning during this time of transformation, using system working to create a better offer to support, develop and retain NHS staff, and ensure staff are deployed as effectively as possible in support of a local population’s needs.

Strong relationships are clearly an enabler of this. These case studies show that bringing leaders across the system together on shared ambitions for health and care makes it possible to act. Trust leaders have highlighted the importance of bringing frontline staff on the journey, and enabling them to get to know their counterparts in other organisations underpinned by a culture which promotes collaboration.

However, system working itself has not proven to be straightforward. Challenges have arisen in terms of relationships, governance, finance and regulation. In some systems this has hampered progress, whereas others have developed at a faster rate. This has had implications for how systems have progressed workforce initiatives particularly where workforce shortages may encourage organisations to focus on day-to-day challenges.

While it is clear that each STP/ICS is on an individual journey, trusts and their partners are expected to make rapid progress towards integrated working. Workforce planning has a substantial role to play in driving the progress of system working. How we work with our valued workforce to enable closer relationships between trusts and other health and care organisations, and how we support members of staff throughout periods of change and transformation, will be an important determinant of how well system partners can work in collaboration.