All in a day’s work!

by Chris Calkin

11 October 2017


The NHS Operating Game is an interactive training tool where services and organisations are visually represented requiring participants to plan service delivery over several rounds of the game. Each round representing a month. Find out more and watch a video showing the game in action .

The NHS Operating Games have been developed to ensure that they meet both training and technical requirements, but also importantly the requirement of those who have participated. The feedback, which has been universally excellent, has nevertheless helped us develop the games to reflect the challenges facing the NHS.

The Operating Game has developed over the last two years and now exists in four versions:

The NHS Operating Game - Integrated Health and social care

The NHS Operating Game - Acute

The NHS Operating Game - Mental Health 

The NHS Wales Operating Game

The training day presents participants with a number of strategic and service challenges where the objective is to work as a team to deliver a quality, safe and financially viable health organisation. It illustrates in a very practical way that operational decisions have an effect on the financial position of organisations as well as quality ratings. During the day teams are presented with a number of unexpected events and challenges that require them to re-plan and develop solutions to ensure that they maintain operational, clinical and financial viability.

We have now run the NHS Operating Games with over 1500 individuals ranging from ward managers, consultants, operational managers, healthcare professionals, GPs, non executives and finance staff including several of the graduate entry finance training schemes. It works from ward to board. Organisations that have used the game include CCGs, acute, mental health & community trusts, NHS England, a Welsh health board and a major supplier of medical supplies to the NHS.

The “Game”, and I almost hesitate to call it that, has delivered insights for participants from all professions. The number of “light bulb” moments that occur every time we run the training is what makes facilitating the game so satisfying. In one day we are able to de-mystify many of the misconceptions and misunderstandings that exist and assist people to look outside of their silo and understand the challenges and constraints that all professions/organisations working in the NHS have to deal with every day. This leads to a better understanding and a more integrated approach to finding solutions.

I understand, especially in these financially challenged times, that obtaining funding to play a game may meet with resistance. However, gamification is a well-recognised method of learning. It even has a definition:

The gamification of learning is an educational approach to motivate students to learn by using video game design and game elements in learning environments. The goal is to maximise enjoyment and engagement through capturing the interest of learners and inspiring them to continue learning.

The latest version we have developed is The NHS Operating Game - Integrated health and social care. The catalyst was the NHS’s need to develop solutions that work across organisational boundaries and challenge the existing ways and methods of working. Integrated care needs integrated understanding and whilst all of the versions of the Games support this principle, the evolving NHS requires a more focused approach that would bring organisations as well as individuals together.

It is a privilege and pleasure to facilitate the NHS Operating Game and meet so many committed people who want to think outside their silo and find solutions that improve services. The game(s) will continue to evolve and develop as the NHS changes and develops.

I hope to see you soon at one of the training days.



To find out more about the NHS Operating Game, click here or contact our team on 0117 938 8350.