Why the NHS Needs next generation recruitment to prosper

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The NHS is the biggest employer in Europe, and the world’s largest employer of highly skilled professionals. Every week, the UK steps outside on Thursday at 8pm and show their appreciations loudly. This is a workforce truly feeling the strain. NHS recruitment

That’s partly because over the past decade workforce growth has not kept up with the increasing demands on the NHS. And it’s partly because the NHS hasn’t been a sufficiently flexible and responsive employer, especially in the light of changing staff expectations for their working lives and careers.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has shown how the NHS recruitment model needs to be taken into the next generation if it is to prosper. But even before this, national statistics paint a bleak picture. In December 2019 there were 25,573 advertised vacancy full-time equivalents in England published, this compares to 24,630 in 2018, 23,616 in 2017, 23,805 in 2016 and 23,206 in 2015.

Published data shows just how tough recruitment is for the NHS:

  • Across NHS trusts there is a shortage of more than 100,000 staff. Based on current trends, Kings Fund projects that the gap between staff needed and the number available could reach between 250,000 and 350,000 by 2030.
  • The current shortages are due to a number of factors, including the fragmentation of responsibility for workforce issues at a national level; poor workforce planning; cuts in funding for training places; restrictive immigration policies exacerbated by Brexit; and worryingly high numbers of doctors and nurses leaving their jobs early. Patient demand is increasing, and there is a mismatch between the number of staff required to safely staff services and the NHS budget.
  • Together, the entire NHS makes up around 1 in 10 of the total workforce in England. In the UK there is one doctor for every 356 people, compared with one for every 277 people on average across comparable countries. One in eight nursing posts are vacant, with 36,000 nurse vacancies in the NHS.
  • In 2017/18, NHS trusts spent £5.5bn on temporary staff 5 to cover vacancies and other short-term absences, accounting for over 10% of total pay costs.
  • An NHS staff survey showed that 38% of staff had felt unwell during the previous 12 months due to work-related stress. Sickness absence in the NHS runs around 2.3 percentage points higher than in the rest of the economy and around one in eleven of our staff leave the NHS entirely every year.

Workforce challenges are also compounded by demographic challenges. An ageing population with a growing burden of frailty and chronic disease means that there are also significant gaps between workforce skills and population needs.

The nursing workforce is particularly affected: nearly a third of qualified nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff are over 50 years old, with one in three expected to retire in the next 10 years. It has been notable how the NHS recruitment has had to re-employ retired or non-practicing staff recently to cope with the patient need amidst the deepening pandemic.

This is concerning because over the past decade, the proportion of the health service clinical workforce who are registered nurses has fallen, as numbers of doctors employed in NHS hospitals, mental health and community services have grown at a faster rate than nurses.Previous research by the Health Foundation, The King’s Fund and the Nuffield Trust found that the NHS will need to recruit at least 5,000 nurses a year internationally to avoid a substantial further increase in unfilled posts. The latest data available suggest that in 2017/18 the NHS recruited just 1,600 nurses internationally.

Between 1 October 2019 – 31 December 2019 there were 88,631 advertised vacancy full-time equivalents in England. Of these 84 per cent (74,499) were permanent and 16 per cent (14,131) were fixed-term. It is imperative therefore that NHS Trusts can find a way to futureproof their recruiting processes. More than ever before, NHS Trusts are challenged with talent shortages. With patient care their number one priority, it has never been more critical to take new steps to accelerate hiring — without sacrificing quality or hire. This is where Oleeo comes in.

Tailor-made for healthcare recruitment, Oleeo’s Recruiting Enablement platform for the NHS leverages data and automation to expedite hiring and onboarding. Compliant with fair, open, and on merit recruiting principles, Oleeo enables evidence-led, technology-enabled recruitment that includes:

    • Better User Experience – Oleeo offers an intuitive and easy to use system for both candidates and managers that only asks for information once to prepopulate all required NHS forms.
    • Flexible workflowsCreate recruitment workflows designed to achieve the best hires
    • Be smarter with attraction – Brand your recruitment efforts with as many of your value propositions as possible, advertising in broadened sources to find great diverse hires
    • Smarter Diversity – Ensure all processes and policies do not discriminate in any way and promote inclusivity.
    • Ethical Data and Governance assured – The system meets all security and data governance needs for the NHS to support Trusts with making operational and strategic decisions.

Achieving these goals is dependent on NHS recruitment catching up and becoming an evidence-led, technology-enabled function. It’s time that we take the NHS we so treasure into the next generation!

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