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Better internal recruitment would help NHS staffing crisis

Mike Tresise, October 2017

Image representing Better internal recruitment would help NHS staffing crisis

Mike Tresise The double whammy of the increasing difficulty in recruiting new staff to the NHS, combined with the fact that greater numbers are leaving than ever before, has led many commentators to note the staffing crisis facing the NHS is now as serious as its widely-reported financial challenges.

And with around 86,000 vacancies across the country leaving hospitals reliant on expensive agency staff to continue to provide essential services, now is definitely the time to look seriously at new innovative approaches to NHS recruitment.

A sensible place to start is with why so many staff are currently leaving the NHS. But the lack of reliable data here makes this harder to answer than perhaps it should be. This was highlighted most recently in a report by NHS Digital, which showed the most stated reason for people leaving the NHS is 'Voluntary Resignation - Other/Not known'.

This intelligence gap is one of the reasons that led NHS SBS to develop a new Exit Interview service for NHS organisations - and the early anecdotal evidence is telling. One of the things revealed to date is how difficulties in transferring internally, or being able to rotate roles without resigning, can to lead to employee frustration and be a key factor in their decision to leave.

Traditionally, recruitment processes in NHS trusts have followed a one size fits all approach when it comes to advertising and candidate attraction. Staff who wish to apply for a role within the same organisation must follow the same long - and sometimes exasperating - process as an external candidate.

With HR departments having few spare resources to focus on innovative internal recruitment methods, and recruitment teams having to deal with large volumes of processing, it is inevitably hard to run two separate approaches for internal and external candidates.

That said, by introducing more flexible ways of managing internal recruitment, NHS trusts could relieve some current frustrations, fill vacancies more quickly, retain suitably qualified and experienced staff, and save on pre-employment checks, training and induction costs.

Some simple changes, such as establishing internal job boards and actively encouraging internal candidates to apply for vacancies, for instance, have helped some trusts remove barriers that can often prevent staff from applying for opportunities within their own organisation.

With so many current issues impacting on NHS recruitment - Brexit, pay restraint and the increasing demand on clinical services to name a few - the NHS needs to find innovative solutions to help retain staff and maintain stability in the workforce.

Investing a small amount of time and effort to make it easy for internal staff to move and rotate within a trust, is a relatively low risk and inexpensive place to begin.

To find out more about the NHS SBS flexible range of recruitment services that are tailored to meet the complex needs of the NHS, contact our recruitment team at sbs-s.recruitmentsolutions@nhs.net or visit www.sbs.nhs.uk/es-recruitment. You can find the new guide for NHS employers improving staff retention here.

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