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Washington, DC, April 2017 (PAHO/WHO)- Planning of human resources for health requires forecasting of needs and building future and diverse scenarios. These are interviews with workforce analysts from the Department of Health in England who describe systems thinking techniques for health and care workforce planning: horizon scanning, scenario generation, workforce modelling and policy analysis.

Effective workforce planning is a crucial step to securing a stronger health system where everyone has equal access to qualified, trained healthcare workers. In these videos, analysts from the Department of Health in England, Dr. Graham Willis - Head of Research and Development, and Matt Edwards - Head of Horizon Scanning and International, shared their knowledge, successes and lessons learned in health and care workforce planning by introducing the method of robust workforce planning, an innovative and proven approach for workforce planning that is implemented to process complexity and uncertainty commonly encountered with the planning of human resources for health.

The methods of systems thinking include techniques in horizon scanning, scenario generation, workforce modelling and policy analysis. This technique is new for health care workforce planning, and provides policymakers with a new way of thinking about the future, testing prospective policies and avoiding unexpected consequences.

"These are innovative techniques because we are combining things that are not normally combined in health care workforce planning. We look into the future, using horizon scanning, we create scenarios for the future and then we take those scenarios and model them. We think about the future and uncertainty" said Dr. Graham Willis.

In terms of how this approach can be applied to the Region of the Americas, Matt Edwards explains that "we have common challenges in our health systems, workforce mobility, economic pressures, different changing legislations and laws, affecting the workforce. (...)  I think in the Americas there is an incredible diversity of those who already do some planning, and those who are yet to start, and collectively it seems PAHO is leading the way in enhancing and building that dialogue".

These videos are part of the Region's efforts to define orientations for the Human Resources for Health agenda, within the framework of the Strategy for Universal Access to Health and Universal Health Coverage.


1.Could you describe how and why the models for health and care workforce planning are innovative techniques? Answered by: Dr. Graham Willis

2.Could you share some examples of how the methods of systems thinking in horizon scanning, scenario generation, workforce modeling and policy analysis are being used and implemented? Answered by: Matt Edwards

3.How have these methods improved workforce planning? Answered by: Dr. Graham Willis and Matt Edwards

4.According to your perspective, what are the current and future challenges in human resources for health in terms of workforce planning? Answered by: Dr. Graham Willis

5.How could this approach be best applied in the Latin America and the Caribbean health systems context? Answered by: Matt Edwards