Much has been made recently of the precarious state of the NHS and how it is having problems recruiting staff, but is the situation really as bad as the media makes out? Is the NHS suffering a recruitment crisis?
Medical versus non-medical
From reports in the media to independent surveys, there does indeed seem to be a problem with both recruiting and retaining staff within the NHS, but on the whole this appears to be mainly confined to front line medical professionals. Here, training for new recruits is down by as much as 40% in some regions of the country, forcing the NHS to look outside the UK for trained medical professionals and agency personnel to fill the gaps in the service.
However, there is one area of the NHS that does not seem to be affected nearly quite so badly and that is the area of administration, tying in with management and the operational side. Why is this? For one thing, the NHS invests quite considerably in making these roles attractive to potential recruits through apprenticeships and on the job training schemes. Administration is also a role that can be transferred across practically every sector, as being a successful administrator in whatever capacity means having the ability to organise, analyse and manage things on a day-to-day basis. This is something that every business needs to do. This is exemplified by the London Ambulance Service’s non-exec director, Murziline Parchment. Ms Parchment had been a public law barrister and Head of the Mayor’s Office for Tower Hamlets before taking up the post on the Service’s board. Both these roles would have equipped her admirably for a role in the NHS, which relies on effective management and good communication. Although Ms Parchment’s position as a non-executive director is rather more high profile than most of the administrative jobs available in the NHS, her appointment demonstrates how anyone with these kinds of skills can enjoy a solid career progression in the organisation.
So how can the recruitment crisis with medical staff in the NHS be halted? One of the reasons cited for the crisis is poor workforce planning and this is why abler administrators are needed in the NHS, as they will be involved in recruitment campaigns if they work in Marketing, and working out where the doctors and nurses are required in the UK. But in regards to the medical professionals who are desperately needed, even the Department of Health in England has admitted that much more needs to be done to recruit home-grown medical staff. They are hoping to achieve this by changing the funding system for student nursing, allied health professionals and midwives to create a greater number of available training places.
It is undeniable that the NHS is facing a problem in terms of recruiting and retaining medical personnel from within the UK and that individual efforts surrounding training to improve the situation are welcome. Ultimately though, the NHS has to make working for them as a doctor or nurse much more attractive, or recruitment will always fall short.