Medmatch Medical

Hiring talent presents various obstacles to any organization, and it’s a time-intensive process regardless of Industry. The Healthcare sector, however, faces unique challenges when it comes to selecting, securing & retaining in-house expertise.

The Doom/Gloom
BMA stats released in Q1 of 2018 show that Junior Doctor Applications are down (1) for another consecutive year (1), and only half of those completing Foundation training in 2016 went on to continue training within the NHS. This is the lowest stoop in a steady 5 year slide from 71% in 2011 (2) and it’s a trend which, in spite of several hotly-debated revival strategies from NHS England, has not enjoyed any tangible signs of improvement.

The scene is not dissimilar in Nursing, suffering a 30% slide in training applications following the removal of the Nurses and midwives’ bursary last year (3).  Stories of Care Homes closing due to an inability to secure qualified staff are commonplace.

The Boom
Whilst deflating, these statistics only confirm the anecdotal hubbub that those who have been operating a business in the Health and Social Care sectors have been privy to over the past few years. This trend is not new.

So why are we discussing something we all know already? Because despite enduring the same severe pressures on the Healthcare workforce talent pool as the rest of us, more than a few Healthcare businesses have enjoyed rapid growth and stable success over the same time-period.

‘Remote’ providers in the Primary Care sector have enjoyed impressive growth in the last 2-3 years. Perhaps the most notorious, Babylon Health has secured pilots to deliver 111 triage through its app-based software and reports to have already processed over 250,000 patients by this time last year (4).

In more ‘traditional’ Primary Care, the last 2-3 years have seen the rapid ascension of several entrepreneurial GP Federations and Healthcare Alliances – a lucrative response by the more commercially-minded Practices, GP Partners and Health Executives keen to scoop up myriad contracts issued by NHS England for delivering all variety of services. These groups generally require high volumes of clinicians across multiple disciplines/sub-specialities.

High-quality workforce planning alone has not been the making of these success stories. Savvy contract-bidding, tech-awareness & stable management are key factors. However, there are obvious links between profitability & growth and an organisation’s approach to its recruitment process. Bid-writers and Managers are well-selected ingredients in this recipe for wider success.

So, what are those businesses making lemonade doing differently when it comes to their workforce planning?

Permanent versus temporary
33% of NHS expenditure on non-permanent staff is spent on Medical Locums, with approx.. £1.1 billion per year paid to Locum clinicians (5). Permanent workforces are inarguably conducive to your sustainable growth, team satisfaction and patient experience. The introduction of perplexing IR35 legislation in 2017 handed a terrific advantage to Healthcare businesses seeking to reduce their Locum dependency, by closing down options for expensive Locum clinical staff to charge higher rates than their substantive counterparts. This change, combined with 2016/17’s Monitor rate framework for Trusts has tightened the gap in earning potential between temporary and permanent Clinical staff to a level not seen in years.

There hasn’t been a better time for Healthcare businesses to ‘meet in the middle’ – offering some flexibility on Salaried/substantive remuneration & packages is an approach on which more progressive Providers are capitalising heavily. For example, offering a GP a Salary of £10-11k per session plus benefits might seem high. However this is invariably cheaper than their Locum equivalent, with all of the discussed benefits of a permanent hire. Predominantly because the earning gap has been closed, talented clinicians are considerably more open to taking a realistic Permanent package in favour of security; not to mention peace of mind when it comes to The Revenue.

Innovative packages
As well as offering realistic remuneration, successful Providers find innovative ways to stand out from their workforce-starved competitors. Investing in Clinicians’ development is a double-edged sword; for example, offering paid CDP or Courses as part of a package is a sure-fire way to attract those clinicians who are serious about developing their skills. These schemes in turn engender loyalty amongst the staff you really want to keep.

Sourcing smart
Where Health businesses advertise their vacancies can make all the difference, both from quality and cost-efficiency standpoints. Many fast-growing providers steer clear of major job boards and channels in favour of more contemporary approaches.

When using paid job boards (there are some household name websites which are for some the only go-to channel) extreme caution needs to be taken. Many of these publications are awash with Locum/temp agencies, which buy your candidate’s CV from the publication. So, if you get a response at all (not guaranteed despite hefty up-front fees), the chances are your new hire will have had their CV sold to Agencies or even your competition, annihilating your retention.

New talent pools
Whilst we are seeing an exodus of Healthcare professionals leaving for Dubai, Canada and the like, there are literally hundreds of thousands of qualified, committed prospects in Europe and beyond. Shrewd employers unable to fill posts are registering for Visa Sponsorship permits. Their reward comes in the form of dedicated permanent staff, often with drastically lower remuneration expectations than their British colleagues. 15% of all UK jobs advertised overseas in 2017 were in Healthcare (6). This confirms International recruitment as a substantial and viable solution to the UK’s shortages. Open-minded Providers large and small are already reaping the benefits.

The Industry as a whole is facing contemporary workforce challenges, but those Healthcare Businesses willing to embrace novel recruitment strategies, and utilise legislative and societal developments to their advantage when building their workforce are able to not just survive  - but thrive.

(1) BMA Junior Doctors career survey 2017 - Updated March 2018
(2) The Mirror
(3) The Independent Feb 2018
(4) TechCrunch April 2017
(5) Nuffield Trust: The NHS workforce in Numbers Oct 2017
(6) The Guardian March 2017

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