4 ways to slash recruitment costs in the NHS

Recruitment costs in the NHS. The power of retention.

It’s estimated that the NHS spends over £3 billion on recruitment every year, with an average cost of £3,500 to recruit and onboard a single employee. In a system already facing financial pressures, optimising recruitment processes to reduce costs is a top priority.

Let’s delve deeper into proven strategies that can make NHS hiring more financially streamlined while ensuring the continued attraction of top talent.


  1. Confronting the reliance on agency staff

Excessive reliance on agency staff is a major driver of NHS hiring costs. Locum doctors, for example, can cost significantly more per hour than permanent NHS staff, and the long-term use of agencies inflates expenses.

One way to overcome this is by building a robust internal bank of temporary staff, which will offer a valuable alternative to agencies. Target a mix of flexible workers, returners to the profession, and recent retirees. This pool provides much-needed support without extreme agency fees.

Knowing where to look when hiring for a new, skill-specific position isn’t easy. Oleeo’s Talent Rediscovery can highlight candidates (and existing employees) with the skills needed for your new role, helping you to hire quickly.

In addition, proactive workforce planning can be a game changer. Accurately forecasting staffing needs is key. Analyse historical trends, retirement patterns, and service demand fluctuations to avoid expensive, last-minute agency hires.

In situations where agencies are unavoidable, ensure your organisation has robust framework agreements in place. Negotiate the best possible rates and establish caps to control cost escalation.


  1. Optimising the recruitment process

A lengthy, inefficient recruitment process translates directly into added expense. According to a study by Remedium Partners, the average NHS Jobs process alone has a five-month hiring timeframe, leading to prolonged reliance on expensive locums.

One way to combat this is by implementing an applicant tracking system that automates previously manual hiring tasks. Screening, interview scheduling, and candidate communication can be streamlined, saving HR teams valuable time and resources. Somerset NHS are doing exactly that, implementing innovative solutions to improve care for their community. 

Oleeo’s ATS Software is easy to learn, easier to configure, and will save your business time and money. Whether you’re seeking one specialised job candidate or a group of candidates with an assortment of skills, Oleeo has options for you.


  1. The power of retention

The revolving door of staff leaving the NHS is immensely expensive. Studies suggest that replacing a single nurse can cost the NHS upwards of £40,000, taking into account lost productivity, training, and additional recruitment fees.

Prioritise initiatives like mental health support, flexible work options, and career development opportunities. When staff feel valued and supported, they’re more likely to stay.

Gaining a clear understanding of why people leave is essential. Use this information to make targeted improvements to working conditions and reduce the reasons for future departures.

Promoting from within is often a cost-effective strategy. Provide opportunities for career progression within the NHS to retain talented staff and reduce overall hiring costs.


  1. Exploring diverse talent sources

Diverse talent will bring unique skills and experiences to the table. For example, healthcare professionals from immigrant backgrounds may be multilingual and culturally competent, allowing them to better serve a diverse patient population. These skills can be invaluable and potentially reduce the need for additional training or resources.

Overall, exploring diverse talent sources allows the NHS to find a wider range of qualified candidates, potentially reducing competition and recruitment costs, while also fostering a more engaged and effective workforce, leading to long-term cost savings.

Using Oleeo, you can communicate seamlessly with international candidates, no matter their language. You can minimise the likelihood of communication errors and alleviate the burden on candidates to translate messages independently, thus preventing the recruitment process from becoming unnecessarily cumbersome.

By embracing a multi-pronged approach, the NHS can reduce hiring costs while maintaining a dedicated, skilled workforce. Change takes dedication, but  the potential savings are immense and vital to ensure the continued strength of this invaluable British institution.

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