Representing estates and facilities professionals operating within the  



HEFMA joins the EFM Workforce Strategy board

Fiona Daly, National Sustainability and EFM Workforce Lead, told delegates at last week’s HEFMA Forum that Estates and Facilities within the NHS now has the richest data set it has had in 15 years. Her comments were made during a special session led by NHS England and NHS Improvement, at which Simon Corben, Director and Head of Profession for NHS Estates and Facilities, and Adrian Eggleton, Director and EFM Operational Lead also spoke.


Fiona was referring to the results of last year’s data collection, which will lead into a national strategy for the Estates and Facilities workforce. She also confirmed that a partnership has been formalised with HEFMA and IHEEM to work together on this strategy, with the HCA (Hospital Caterers Association) and ahcp (Association of Healthcare Cleaning Professionals) also committing their support during last week’s event.


Fiona revealed some of the headline statistics, which help to pinpoint the size of the EFM workforce, its composition and where the challenges in recruitment and staff retention really lie.


* The EFM workforce in the NHS in England totals 98,482 people

* This breaks down as 66% employed in-house, 27% outsourced and 7% within wholly owned subsidiaries (WOS) which includes NHS Property Services

* 15% of this workforce is in ‘hard’ FM, with 77% in ‘soft’ FM and 7% in leadership, management and support roles

* There are only 416 apprentices

* 70% of the workforce falls into bands 1 and 2 (at the time of the survey band 1 was still in existence)

* There are 4,400 vacant posts of which around 800 are engineering roles

* 2,719 agency or bank staff are in post

* Only 5% of the workforce is under 25

* 75% of the workforce is over 40 and a staggering 34% is approaching retirement (aged 56-65 predominantly with a small amount of over 65s)

* The workforce is split roughly 50/50 between male and female, but in leadership roles men outnumber women by five to one

* 23% of the workforce is non-white, but in leadership positions only one in 20 is non-white

* Graduates comprise just over 1% of the workforce

* Only 1% of staff are members of professional bodies

* On average, we spend only £90pp per annum on training


The workforce challenge facing the NHS has been talked about extensively, usually with the focus on clinical roles. It is the first time the scale of the challenge faced by Estates and Facilities has been set out in simple and graphic, statistical terms that can be used to support arguments for greater investment in the sector. It also helps to identify problem areas that need to be addressed, backed-up by the data to support the need for change.


Recruitment & retention

It’s no secret that a recruitment drive is needed and that the process needs to be quicker; that work is needed to make Estates & Facilities within the NHS an attractive proposition to appeal to young people; that existing staff, particularly on those lower bands need to be valued; and that E&F in the near future is vulnerable with a general lack of succession planning. Clearly, the ongoing work on this EFM workforce strategy will focus on these areas, but drawing on the analysis of the data that has so far been possible, Fiona was able to highlight and/or acknowledge some other issues.


Succession Planning

The statistics underline the extent to which E&F within the NHS is suffering from an ageing workforce. With 5% of the workforce aged under 25 and just 20% aged 26-40, clearly attention needs to be focused on recruiting and retaining staff in those critical age groups. With 34% of the workforce approaching retirement in the next 10 years or sooner, if recruitment and retention of staff continues at this rate the workforce shortage is only going to escalate. “We need to look at how we keep people at the prime of their career.”


Agenda for Change

The survey has evidenced what many already know – that Agenda for Change doesn’t work. In fact, Fiona confirmed that it is contributing to the loss of staff to the private sector and it is often a blocker to recruitment, although not within WOS, which have more flexibility to set their own employment terms within their local markets. 


Fiona confirmed that some independent research will be commissioned to establish some regional, national and international benchmarks to help to make the case that Agenda for Change does not work and is not appropriate for E&F staff. This can’t happen overnight, but will be put in motion without delay.


Staff Development

The figure of £90pp per annum for training is poor. Within WOS the figure increases to around £141pp, which is better, but still poor. If the sector is serious about developing the workforce, it needs to address this, perhaps by lobbying for central funds, or by doing things differently internally to create ring-fenced funds for training.


A lot of Trusts are not making the most of the apprenticeship levy. The survey revealed that at least in part this is because they find it difficult to access. CCS has launched a framework – the Crown Commercial Services (CCS) Dynamic Marketplace to enable Trusts to access the levy through a choice of validated suppliers. Companies offering apprenticeship services can register on the framework at any time from now until 2023.* 


HEFMA and IHEEM are working with NHS Improvement to develop some health-specific modules that can be added to current FM engineering and non-engineering based apprenticeships to develop more tailored qualifications for healthcare.


NHS Improvement has also been working with University College London, which has developed a unique Masters degree (MSc) in healthcare facilities management, which includes a broad range of modules specifically for healthcare professionals. The course is launching in September and is strongly recommended for anyone looking to develop their career or that of team members. Funding is an issue, Fiona admitted, adding that it would be necessary to look at how some funding could be structured for this qualification.** 



In spite of the number of vacancies revealed in E&F roles, answering a question from the floor around greater use of technology in the recruitment process, Fiona urged getting the basics right first. She challenged where and if these vacancies were being advertised, adding that she had visited the website of every Trust in England specifically looking for E&F jobs being advertised and found only 500. Furthermore, no Trust had a specific E&F section providing detail about the career possibilities in these professions within the NHS.


The full EFM workforce strategy will be launched at Healthcare Estates in October. 


* Click here to apply to join this framework as a supplier

Click here for more information about this framework


** Click here for more information about this course