As the aftermath of COVID-19 continues to stress-test global healthcare systems, workforce shortages are becoming particularly stretched. The NHS, and many other formerly-functioning public and private healthcare systems are quickly becoming overwhelmed and understaffed. According to the King’s Fund, Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation, the NHS will be short of 350,000 staff by 2030 if staffing shortages continue, and reports from BMA state that thousands of overworked doctors plan to leave the NHS.
Not only do these staff shortages impact the quality of treatment and care on offer, but they also lengthen waiting times. It was recently announced that the UK Health Secretary predicted that the current NHS waiting list of 5.3 million people could more than double by the end of the year. And increasing the already high levels of uncertainty throughout the UK post-pandemic as waiting lists rise and missed diagnosis leads to higher mortality. Even before the pandemic outbreak, the UK government launched a mass recruitment programme to address staff shortfalls, especially within nursing. Now Covid has exacerbated an already stressed system putting both access to treatments and quality of care at even more severe risk, unless urgent steps are taken to close the skills gap.
One such provider is Britannia Healthcare, which supports the UK healthcare sector with a range of solutions such as nursing, staffing, and contracting encompassing both the public and private spheres. Britannia Healthcare holds a major shareholding in a POEA licensed recruitment agency in the Philippines, Sharp BH Global Manpower Inc which has an excellent track record for recruiting nurses for both the NHS and the private healthcare sector in the UK. The company joined forces with TrueProfile.io to deliver and facilitate the recruitment of a new generation of nurses from the Philippines.
The profession and skill shortages
There is a huge demand for nurses throughout the UK, impacting both private and public healthcare providers. But for Britannia Healthcare and TrueProfile.io, the one key ingredient in their recruitment drive was to identify which skills the UK lacked the most and the areas that needed addressing urgently.
The two businesses collaborated to help stem the staggering skills deficits in the UK healthcare industry encompassing specialties such as dental nurses, nursing assistants, operating room nurses, doctors and physiotherapists.
When COVID-19 hit England last spring, the health service faced a workforce shortage of over 100,000 staff – around 40% of the staffing shortfall was in nursing alone. The UK Government launched a major recruitment drive but as the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the profession’s regulator, announced in early 2021 that while 15,000 more nurses, midwives and nursing associates were now registered compared to March 2020, the rate of growth in recruitment has slowed considerably. Many of these professionals are now leaving the sector as a result of the longer-term impacts of the pandemic.
The answer for many in the sector is to recruit internationally, a fact not lost on Britannia Healthcare and its partner TrueProfile.io.
The recruitment challenges in the NHS
Britannia Healthcare is one of many recruiters looking to support the NHS. With so many suppliers with established relationships and ongoing framework contracts, breaking into the market has presented a challenge.
In addition, new immigration rules are now beginning to be felt throughout the NHS. Settled status for EU citizens has gone a long way to stabilising existing staffing and not just in healthcare. According to the latest government data, some three million EU citizens did apply prior to the 30 June deadline, but for those who did not, then the future is uncertain. For people looking to enter the UK job market from outside the EU, the rules are arguably harder, the new points-based approach is causing some confusion and is possibly adding to increased labour shortages.
However, there are also other industry challenges. Most of these largely relate to costs for international HCPs who want to migrate over to the UK. However, platforms like TrueProfile.io, seek to make the process itself more streamlined and easier to navigate.
Sourcing skilled professionals
Sourcing skilled professionals with the correct credentials and talent will always be paramount to the healthcare industry. Using a platform that gives access to a large international candidate pool of pre-verified nurses to fill these roles allows the recruitment process to be streamlined, more efficient, and compliant with healthcare employment regulations.
The value of platforms like TrueProfile.io means that companies can source nurses and healthcare staff much more efficiently, and therefore job vacancies can be filled quicker.
Colin Pettifer, Managing Director of Britannia Healthcare, said: “Sourcing the right overseas candidates for roles in the NHS has traditionally been a lengthy, complex and costly process. There are many obstacles that we have to overcome such as language barriers, and some recruiters do not always have the required local knowledge and contacts. It is easy to see why many British hospitals and healthcare facilities struggle in their hunt for high-quality overseas medical talent.”
Pettifer concludes: “Fortunately, there is a range of innovative technologies available that can offer recruiters and regulators the tools they need to streamline the recruitment process. By using blockchain-enabled professional document verification platforms, candidates can securely upload and verify private documents, such as passports or university certificates. For us, this has been an integral part of our new recruitment process for both us and the NHS and one that is here to stay.”