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NHS recruitment crisis worsens

Caroline Gleeson, Co-Founder of Occupop,

As the NHS struggles with an array of issues, namely the pandemic and perceived poor working conditions, the latest news that mandated vaccines for staff will be introduced from next Spring, is of huge concern. To add clarity, recruitment software business, Occupop has revealed their annual healthcare recruitment report.

Ever before the pandemic, the NHS was struggling to retain staff and recruit across a variety of areas, however since March 2020, these challenges have been amplified in ways no one could have seen. Almost 2/3 of nursing staff saying their mental health had deteriorated from the start of the pandemic*, and this shows no sign of abating, with 62% saying their mental health is ‘worse’ or ‘much worse’ now, than at the start of Covid.

Thankfully, there are silver linings amidst what might seem a hopeless scenario, as Occupop have seen uplift in applications in some areas of the healthcare sector.

Commenting on the situation, Co-Founder of Occupop, David Banaghan said; “Healthcare has been one of the hardest hit and uniquely challenged sectors over the past year, facing a pandemic-induced crisis which has taken a heavy toll on the medical work-force. But there are silver linings – young people have seen the heroism of the NHS during an extraordinary time, and this has manifested itself in an increase in
applications for the likes of nursing college, and a 21% increase in UCAS applications for medical degrees.”

The UK Government has set an ambitious target of recruiting 50,000 more nurses by 2024. Staffing was a key issue for the NHS even prior to the pandemic, (and has only intensified post-pandemic) as patient demand continues to rise. So, how will this be achieved?

David Banaghan suggests the following recruitment tactics to attract talent;

1. Enhanced flexible working
Electronic Self-Rostering. This helped to improve work-life balance making the trust a
more attractive employer to staff and applicants, reducing turnover and vacancies, alleviating pressure on the hiring process. NHS England has responded to the desire for flexible working in the medic workforce by establishing new local banks for salaried and locum GPs as announced in the NHS People Plan July 2020. This should create new opportunities for GPS to work flexibly and a new way for trusts to attract and hire medics.

2. Creating sustainable career pathway
The Care Quality Commission State of Care Report revealed that adult social care providers have been improving career progression opportunities. They have achieved this by partnering with other social and healthcare providers to enable career progression opportunities. This involved local authorities and providers and other agencies working together to pool resources and create smoother career pathways

3. Overseas recruitment to help meet the 50,000 target
In February 2021 of this year, the UK Government, updated its code of practice (COP) for the international recruitment of health and social care staff to align with the World Health Organization (WHO), widening the global market from which the UK can ethically recruit’. Prior to this update there were 152 countries where NHS Employers were not allowed to recruit from; following the update list was reduced to 47

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