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New Year Same Challenges

As we head into a new year, we had hoped that the end of the pandemic was in sight. The strain across the UK health and social care industry faced since the onset of the Covid 19 pandemic has seen the government make commitments to improve staffing across the NHS.  But we’re in the worst labour shortage since 1997, and the healthcare sector is one of the gravest-hit.  The short reprieve that was experienced within the care industry looks like it is over.

Whilst other industries were making redundancies and those without jobs were happy to take roles in the care sector, many are returning to their old professions.  So how can the government deliver on their commitment?  Here, we take a look at the impact of various external environmental factors and how we can help you overcome challenges in 2022.

Brexit and immigration

As a sector that had been heavily supported with the recruitment of healthcare workers from across the EU, the impact of Brexit is hard-hitting.  We’re now a country starved of immigrants due to restrictions and red tape, many of whom used to work and flourish within health and social care. Even before the Covid pandemic, there was already a shortage of around 50,000 nurses, and today the healthcare system is nowhere near bridging that gap.  There’s an urgent need for the government and regulators to work with key international partners to build a sustainable model that meets these recruitment challenges.

The recent announcement by the government about the plans to relax immigration rules for care workers will see it become easier for them to work in the UK. Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “The care sector is experiencing unprecedented challenges prompted by the pandemic and the changes we’ve made to the health and care visa will bolster the workforce and help alleviate some of the pressures currently being experienced.”  But without a long-term commitment to immigration into the sector and a clear plan for this continuation of relaxation of the rules, the bleak picture for international recruitment within the healthcare sector looks set to continue.

Pandemic epiphany

One of the challenges for all industries during the pandemic has been the “great resignation”. This year has seen a greater focus on mental health and wellbeing, flicking a switch in many people. Combined with lifestyle reassessments this has led to more people searching for meaning outside of work. Therefore, there has been a mass exodus of people leaving jobs, changing careers and/or working hours. To help combat this mass exodus more and more companies are moving to flexible and home working arrangements to support employees – where does this leave recruitment within the healthcare sector?

We will always need people to “show up” and be “present” in a hospital, a care home or an assisted living setting. So, this new challenge of needing to compete with such working flexibility puts these types of fixed location roles at a real disadvantage.  This also adds further health risks, with these workers exposing themselves to Covid-19.

With the added risks of exposure to Covid, all healthcare providers need to focus on staff safety and safeguarding employees and their wellbeing. They need to work on their retention strategies – there is no point pouring water into a leaky bucket!  Plugging the leak needs to be an urgent priority. Early turnover of staff suggests a better focus on onboarding is needed.

With our help, we can ensure that you are bringing the right people into the business and setting them up to succeed from day one. Organisations need to ensure that they are creating cultures where people want to stay, and they are empowering them to feel fulfilled and motivated. Offering ongoing training to allow lateral movement and career progression opportunities.  Another solution is inviting retired NHS and care workers back into practice and employment. If organisations can show that they have really changed and are offering better conditions and working practices, will this be enough to encourage deserters and retirees back?

Mandated vaccination

A recent announcement by the Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, has also confirmed the extension of a mandated Covid-19 vaccination for all people working in face-to-face roles within all Care Quality Commission regulated activities. This mandatory vaccine requirement was brought into all Care Homes in October this year and its extension to all health care settings looks likely to come into force in April 2022. This could see further strain on the NHS and other care provider settings as the government has confirmed that in some Trusts the vaccination rate is around 80%.

People who wish to maintain their choice not to vaccinate themselves against the risks of Covid-19 will find themselves unable to work in most roles within the health care industry, further reducing the pool of available candidates.

Candidates have the power

With healthcare vacancy figures are increasing by the day.  It’s now the candidates who hold the power in the recruitment process, not the employers. The candidate experience during the hiring process should be as simple and smooth as possible. People are significantly more likely to accept an offer if they have experienced a positive route to being hired. And with more and more ways for people to share their views whether via social media, or an employee review site, candidates are less afraid to share any negative experiences. This can potentially discourage others from even applying, attending interviews, or accepting job offers with your organisation.

So, things like a great advert written with a clear candidate-type in mind are essential. Then a streamlined process; if the candidate must complete too many stages, they are likely to lose interest and potentially abandon the process altogether. Try to keep it simple, which elements are critical to the recruitment process and build your stages around those.

Communication is critical, it’s the first step in building a working relationship with the candidate. Be sure to acknowledge applications, keep them up-to-date throughout the hiring process and not waiting too long to offer the job.

How we can help

Remember that when it comes to medical and health care professionals, the demand is currently outstripping the supply.  So, when you choose a recruitment agency to help build your teams, you need to look at their credentials.  Here at Safehands Recruitment, we have the experience and an outstanding reputation, but also an excellent database of existing healthcare professionals.

We build connections with our candidates; they are far more than just a face and a name – exactly how they will become as part of your team.  We recognise when a candidate has the potential to do the job you require and do it well, or when they might need a little more formal training.

Our experience, knowledge, and ability to understand the industry mean that we are best placed to help support you in all of the issues we have discussed and more.

For assistance with health and social care recruitment, please contact us here.

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