Dr Kit Latham, co-founder of healthcare recruitment software provider Credentially, discusses how improved automation – including the use of digital staff passports – can help the NHS to manage the ongoing workforce crisis and recruit qualified staff, faster.
The NHS workforce crisis is not a new problem; but the recent need to bolster staffing levels to meet demands on services, and fill vacancies left open by staff affected by Covid-19, has been unprecedented. The NHS has risen to this challenge by rapidly digitalising services and finding innovative ways to augment staffing levels; rehiring retired clinicians, adapting the roles of student doctors and redeploying existing staff to areas where they were needed most.
One of the things that made this possible is NHS England’s adoption of Covid-19 digital staff passports; implemented as an interim measure to enable NHS and bank workers to move frictionlessly between organisations and departments; by sharing key information including ‘right to work’, DBS checks and professional registrations.
As part of NHS England’s COVID-19 response, essential services have been forced to scale up – rapidly – whilst at the same time continuing to meet the stringent requirements associated with hiring new healthcare staff. This has forced the NHS to find innovative ways to recruit new staff at the same time as facilitating rapid mobility between trusts and departments.
Before the pandemic, the NHS People Plan 20/21 had already outlined a commitment to creating a digital staff passport for use across the health service, as part of a broader drive to increase digitisation and improve efficiency gains through the use of technology.
COVID-19 accelerated this process, expediting the introduction of digital passports for NHS staff in order to facilitate the staff mobility which was so urgently needed. COVID-19 Digital Passports were developed – and implemented – as an interim measure, streamlining the process for NHS and bank workers to move between NHS organisations and departments by sharing key information including ‘right to work’, DBS checks and professional registrations.
Crucially, digital passports offer the added advantage of helping to facilitate international recruitment. This is particularly important for today’s NHS – even more so in light of Brexit – in which ongoing staff shortages can only be met by recruiting additional staff from abroad. A digital passport system makes it easier for international applicants to apply for vacant positions (which, until now, has been a notoriously complicated process) and remotely upload qualifications, credentials and training records.
By implementing digital staff passports, the NHS has the opportunity to respond, evolve and improve, reflecting a move towards a more efficient, modern-day service.
However, there is still work to be done to ensure that rigorous pre-employment checks continue to be met, to protect the safety of both staff and patients and to ensure CQC compliance. Furthermore, any new workforce management technology must sit seamlessly alongside existing systems; interoperability is key if NHS digital passports are to achieve their ambitious goal of speeding up recruitment, streamlining processes and reducing the administrative burden on staff.
As health services continue to deal with the challenges presented by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – including the vaccine rollout and ambitious targets to reduce backlogs in non-urgent and elective care services – it’s the right time to embrace tech solutions which support the NHS recruitment process.
With the right technology in place, not only can the NHS recruitment process be more efficient, faster and safer, but the experience can also also be substantially improved for candidates, many of whom prefer the flexibility of moving between contracts within the NHS ecosystem.
Simplifying the application process and giving the workforce control over their information, coupled with the relevant regulatory checks and permission-based information sharing can reduce waiting periods between application and appointment. Significantly improving engagement, reducing drop-out rates and time to hire.
The workforce crisis isn’t going away any time soon which is why the NHS and healthcare providers need to have the flexibility to scale with demand. It is something innovative technology can excel at when given the chance.
Credentially is redefining inefficient and costly hiring processes with innovative software that automates the recruitment, onboarding, and compliance of healthcare workers.
With a focus on candidate experience and organisational efficiencies, Credentially’s mission is to save critical hours for healthcare providers and the NHS. Credentially’s customers take as little as 10 days to sign-up, validate and onboard clinicians compared to an industry average of 128 days.