Managing your workforce

Evaluating workforce of NHS services is complex, as there are lots of factors to take into account. Understanding your workforce needs is important for three reasons:

When managers take part in requests for data, it is not only useful for planning their own service needs; it is extremely useful to the bigger picture – Keeping our NHS productive & efficient.

Safe Staffing

We recognise keeping your dietitians safe in clinical practice is your top priority. Here, you can view our Safe Workload Guidance, and Workload Management Guidance. These documents are accompanied by a suite of supporting resources. This is the most vital reason a dietetic workforce should be evaluated. Therefore, our Trade Union will support staff in situations where staffing levels are unsafe.

BDA Safe Staffing Guidance

BDA Workload Management Guidance

BDA Dietetic Workload Audit Tool

NHS Developing Workforce Safeguards

You can find out more about the work the BDA has completed on issues surrounding safe staffing here

Optimising Productivity

For a service to be 100% productive capacity will meet the demand. This is extremely rare, and currently very difficult to understand within the NHS. There are tools and activities that service managers are asked to use and complete. When completed, these can allow managers to justify any unmet need there might be between service capacity and demand, which maybe impacting on productivity. Being able to justify where there is a deficit in capacity, can support requests for funding new dietitians to increase productivity.

Job Planning

This allows managers understand an accurate picture of planned capacity. There is a current drive in all NHS trusts to have this completed by 2021 (The NHS Long Term Plan 2019). It is now recommended to use e-planning where the facility is in place within an NHS provider trust. Job planning identifies what proportion of a dietitians role should be

  • Direct clinical care (including associated administration)
  • Supporting professional activities
  • Additional NHS responsibilities
  • External Duties

Job planning the clinical workforce – Allied Health Professionals


This identifies actual capacity. Ideally, all clinicians should be recording how their working hours are spent inline with job planning categories. This provides a clear picture as to if their job plan is achievable.


  • details on staffing levels in real time to help plan for demand, taking account of sickness, leave, skills and competencies, staff changes, patient acuity and dependency 
  • redeployment of resources for a consistent staffing level, resulting in less understaffing, ensuring safety and efficiency and reducing reliance on temporary and agency staff 
  • flexibility to cope with daily and hourly changes by redeploying staff across the organisation to maintain safe staffing levels.

Engaging with this e-rostering process may seem like a great deal of effort, and extremely time consuming. Though this is an important part of the puzzle of understanding workforce planning needs.

E-rostering the clinical workforce: levels of attainment and meaningful use standards

Electronic Staff Record

ESR is a hire to retire workforce management solution. This supports the delivery of national workforce policy and strategy, by providing NHS organisations with a range of tools that support effective workforce management and planning; thereby enabling improved quality, improved efficiency and improved patient safety. It is also helpful in monitoring safety and compliance with mandatory training, clinical supervision, and can be useful in talent management. Accuracy of ESR is essential to this being the worthwhile tool it could be. Therefore, there is currently a real drive to improve accuracy. All dietitians working within the NHS should become familiar with their ESR if their trust uses this already.

Access your ESR

Optimising Efficiency

This is all about reducing unwarranted variation. For example, 2 dietitian teams in a similar sized hospital, with a similar workload, seeing similar clients; should have similar numbers of staff, with similar skill sets, and levels of experience. Tools have been developed, and are being developed to support managers look at their workforce in this way.

Being able to make comparisons allows managers set priorities, agendas for quality improvement.

NHS Benchmarking is currently optional for staff and services to input into. We would actively encourage our members who are service managers, to engage in reporting on their data in this way. The more dietetic services reporting in this way, the easier it will be for you to share best practice in dietetic staffing on a national level. We recommend managers of dietitians to get involved. If your NHS trust is a member take advantage of this and join this national network of sharing best practice.

The Model Hospital supports the NHS to provide the best patient care in the most efficient way. This free digital tool from NHS Improvement enables trusts to compare their productivity and identify opportunities to improve. It is currently available to all NHS provider trusts. You can read more about the model hospital here.