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How do we solve the NHS skills crisis?

March 8, 2018  /   No Comments

Purity Kirigo

How do we solve the NHS skills crisis?Recruitment is a challenge in any industry, however the highly regulated healthcare sector is tougher than most.

Not only do employers have to fight against an acute skills shortage and an ageing population, but it is the only sector where the stakes are so high that organisations cannot take any chances with candidates who do not have the exact requisite skill set.

The acute shortage of qualified health staff across the board in the UK means that organisations need help finding quality staff. The demand for qualified doctors and nurses has never been so high, both in the NHS and private care sector. Many are worried that the lack of qualified staff is undermining the quality of everything from community practice to intensive care nursing. But what can we do to try and ease this burden?

Skilled employees in high demand

This is possibly the biggest issue facing the healthcare sector in regard to recruiting. The UK has an ever-ageing population and the numbers of doctors, nurses and other healthcare practitioners is dwindling. This obviously puts all the negotiating power into the hands of candidates and puts a great deal of pressure on health organisations. As they need the staff, and competition for these people is fierce, what should these organisations do?

The only solution for hospitals and other healthcare organisations is to make a concerted effort to look after their staff a lot better and to create enticing benefits packages that will make people want to work for them. This means offering them better pay, better promotional opportunities, less strenuous hours, flexible working and generally treat them like the high-end commodity that they are. It is even important to get the little things right, like providing working kettles and fridges. The candidates have all the power, so the only way to attract them is to give them what they crave.

Experience versus education

There has always been a question over whether you go for education or experience in the healthcare field. The simple answer must be both. If experienced individuals are available and affordable then do not turn them away, as they won’t be available for long. Similarly, with graduates, treat them like they are important. Hiring recent graduates is great for many healthcare providers because it’s cost-effective and rewarding, but be warned they will get gobbled up pretty quickly. Organisations should maybe consider forming partnerships with local universities and training programmes, so they are reaching students before they come onto the market.

Ageing population

There will be an extra five million people over 65 in the next 20 years, which brings about a list of problems for the housing, health and social care sectors. Like we have said before, this is having a big effect on the numbers of doctors and nurses that are available. While there’s no way to prevent people from retiring, healthcare organisations should begin developing proactive recruitment strategies that prepare for their departures. This will ease the burden associated with having to continually hire new individuals to fill vacant positions that are left behind by senior level employees.

Our ageing population is also placing huge pressure on our hospitals and care homes, who simply cannot find enough care staff. The lack of qualified medical staff is being exacerbated by the increase in population and life expectancy. Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said in the Commons recently that in the past six years, the number of people over 80 has increased by 340,000 and life expectancy has gone up by 12 months. Patient numbers are increasing, and therefore hospitals and ambulances are finding it impossible to keep up with demand.

The same is true for the care sector, which is one of the fastest growing markets in the UK, and this trend can only continue. More and more elderly people will require care, but there simply will be no spaces available. The government will have to invest to create more care facilities, fund more combined home care, and care staff will have to be much better rewarded.

What can we do? We clearly need to look after our medical staff much better, reward them and make it a far more attractive profession to remain in. We also need to remove barriers to entry and encourage skilled candidates from abroad. This problem simple won’t go away – action is needed now.

Case study

Cambridge-based businessman, Marshal Konzvo, who recently launched his new Match Options healthcare recruitment business, is determined to try and do his bit to ease the skills shortage which is currently threatening the NHS.

Marshal, who is 37, started his Cambridge Match Options franchise in January 2017, and so far he says things are going better than expected. Previously Marshal had worked in the IT sector for 12 years, where he managed to save enough money to finance his new business venture himself.

He explains: “It just felt like the right time to get involved in this sector, I had an idea I wanted to move into recruitment, but when I started to do my research into healthcare placements it started to really stand out. There basically has never been more demand for qualified healthcare practitioners, whether that’s doctors, nurses and particularly care staff. Organisations simply can’t find enough quality staff, so they need help and this is where we come in.”

Match Options

Match Options is a recruitment agency providing healthcare staff on a temporary and permanent basis. It not only places doctors and nurses but healthcare assistants, care support workers, and domiciliary care workers. It also places health workers in the likes of schools and prisons, meaning the market potential is huge.

Match Options has been successfully operating in the care sector since 1999 providing high-quality services to the local communities it works in; there are currently seven company-owned branches and four franchisees throughout the UK. With the huge market potential on offer the company is now seeking additional franchisees who are committed and passionate about growing the business throughout the UK.

Purity Kirigo is director at Match Options, healthcare recruitment specialists

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  • Published: 2 weeks ago on March 8, 2018
  • Last Modified: March 7, 2018 @ 8:49 pm
  • Filed Under: Industry Insider


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