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Why The NHS Recruitment Process Is So Slow (And What You Can Do About It)

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Whether you’re a recent graduate applying to the NHS for the first time, a seasoned locum or a medical professional looking to expand your experience and augment your CV, the NHS recruitment process can be more confusing than an octopus giving directions. Even support staff and volunteers have to jump through hoops when applying for an NHS job. And now, in the wake of an international healthcare emergency, it’s time to act, to stop being deliberately miopic when it comes to the super slow, complicated process of recruiting new staff in the NHS.

As a result of the Covid-19 crisis, the shortage of clinical staff in the NHS is worsening every day, and something needs to be done - and fast - to speed up the recruitment process. So which type of software enables the NHS to continue to meet the healthcare needs of the population? Spoiler alert, the answer will not surprise you. Credentially, it’s Credentially. Credentially software is constantly evolving, and around 20,000 physicians are currently using it to change the narrative around hiring times and onboarding ease. 

What takes up the most time in NHS recruitment?

Chasing references

Chasing for documents (registrations)

DBS checks

Microsoft Excel

Filing paper

Healthcare professionals have voiced concerns at how slow the NHS is to appoint staff, with many taking to social media to express their frustration and ask why, at such a critical time, the recruitment of essential staff is still so slow. With thousands of available clinical staff and locums ready and willing to work, it’s more important than ever to work together, and find a way to get the right people into the right jobs, as quickly as possible. 

One example of how to speed up the process is CCAS, part of the NHS's emergency response to Covid-19, when they onboarded 3000 clinicians in just 3 weeks! You can too! Find out how.

Reasons why the NHS recruitment process is so slow

Of course, we all understand that the NHS is under extreme pressure as a result of Covid-19. But it’s not just the recent pandemic which causes delays in recruiting for NHS jobs. Healthcare organisations are also faced with ongoing challenges with regard to recruitment, safety and regulatory procedures, which have been put in place to improve patient safety and maintain regulatory compliance with (healthcare regulator) the CQC. If you’re really interested in what goes on behind-the-scenes of NHS recruitment, you can find out more from our blog on the role of HR professionals in the NHS. 

What is different about the NHS recruiting process?

The main problem with the NHS recruitment and selection process is that it’s painfully slow; snails go to the theatre to watch paint dry while laughing at NHS hiring times. This is down to the fastidiousness of the processes designed to maintain and improve patient safety; but are they doing more damage than good? The complex hiring methods adopted by the healthcare sector improve patient safety by ensuring that all new recruits are properly qualified and can provide evidence of their skills, experience and qualifications. 

But for clinical professionals and ancillary staff involved in the NHS application process, the system can be frustratingly arduous, particularly at this critical time, when the speedy recruitment of key workers in the healthcare sector is more vital than ever before. Chasing for references and documentation, along with the necessary compliance checks, have recruiters falling at the first hurdle. 

The inability to adapt and move away from spreadsheets and paper is another key factor. For example, despite the introduction of the NHS’ ESR (Electronic Staff Records) in 2005, our national health service still uses and stores 690,000 miles of paper, pushing their “paperless” goal of 2020 to the end of this decade, according to an article published in 2019. For reference the moon is only 384,000 miles away. Kanye’s ego only goes on for 243,000 miles, and The Great Wall of China is a pretty remarkable landmark. On a serious note, this overreliance on paper, when software alternatives exist and are helping the medical industry, does little to speed up processes. 

How long does the NHS take to shortlist?

As anyone who has ever applied for an NHS job will know, the application process itself can be extremely long-winded, time-consuming and complicated. But once your application is complete, the NHS recruitment and selection process involves further hoops to jump through, before shortlisting, interview and - hopefully - an actual offer of employment can be secured. All applicants will be subject to:

You can find out more about the essential NHS pre-employment checks here, and the 

NHS Recruitment Process Flowchart provides more detailed information on the hiring process in general.

The NHS reportedly uses enough paper to easily reach the moon and back.

Let the software for pre-employment, credentialling and compliance do its job.

There's a better way!

If you’re applying for an NHS job, how long is it likely to take to find out if you’ve been shortlisted? It can take NHS recruiters weeks, sometimes months, to carry out all the necessary checks on applicants and complete the shortlisting staff of the hiring process. Throughout those weeks, how many doctors are burning out? How many patients are missing out on vital care because there aren’t enough staff? 

Once the shortlisting is done, you still need to attend an interview (or maybe several), present your documents, and undergo further suitability checks before a final decision is made. 

Now imagine a world where it only took a handful of days to onboard hundreds of clinicians (an average of 5 days to be exact). A world where references and chase-ups were unavoidably automated, where document checks and uploads were as simple as a simple upload on a candidate’s personal dashboard. This isn’t science fiction, this is software fact, and thousands of clinicians worldwide are already using this platform to their great advantage. 

How long does it take to hear back from an NHS interview?

Once you’ve gone through all the above stages and demonstrated that you meet the necessary job requirements, it might still be a while before you hear whether you’ve been successful. Despite the fact that recruiters will always do their very best to speed up the NHS interview process, anyone will tell you that it can take anywhere from two weeks to six months to hear back from the interview! 

Considering it takes weeks to hear back from NHS recruiters, here’s a helpful list of things you can do in 3 weeks!

What else can you do in three weeks?

What can you do to speed up the NHS hiring process?

We’ve established that the NHS process for recruiting clinical staff is slower than a moonwalking turtle. but there’s nothing any of us can do to change the procedures and checks involved within the NHS itself. 

So the question is: if you’re a locum or health professional seeking NHS employment - whether for the first time or as part of your career development strategy - then what can you do to help speed up the NHS application process?

Increasingly, NHS recruiters and HR professionals in the healthcare sector are looking to third parties to support their recruitment needs. This frees up valuable clinical man-hours and relieves the heavy burden on NHS recruiters, particularly as demand for healthcare staff has seen a massive surge since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

How much does the NHS spend on recruitment?

It’s been estimated that the NHS spends close to £500m a year on agency fees alone, money which could be put to better use improving patient care. By adopting Credentially’s new recruitment and onboarding services, NHS trusts will see a dramatic fall in costs, simplified budgeting, improved workforce planning and better staff retention. Which all adds up to a speedier recruitment process and more positive experience for NHS staff.

How Credentially can help:

Credentially, offer a market-leading automated signup, credentialing, and compliance service to NHS recruiters and healthcare organisations in both the public and private sectors. Our bespoke software platform is tailor-made to meet the individual recruitment and onboarding requirements of different organisations within the NHS and healthcare sector by:

As NHS recruiters and healthcare providers are faced with increasing pressures - not just from the Covid-19 crisis, but also as a result of ongoing regulatory and compliance issues - many are now reaching out to HR, compliance and onboarding software developers, to help them meet their recruitment requirements and to speed up recruitment and onboarding processes. 

Where Credentially is head and shoulders above the rest, is in their intricate knowledge and expertise within the healthcare industry. Staff, patients and healthcare organisations have been the focal point in Credentially’s development and evolution of the software that they develop, combining years of experience in A&E with several years in software development. 

This world-class onboarding and credentialing software is designed to save NHS departments money, having saved healthcare companies thousands of man-hours of wasted clinical time (realistically it’s probably millions of hours saved at this point but who’s counting?), through simple automation of the recruitment and HR processes. [image of someone accomplished at their desk] 

We are now proud to be providing healthcare recruiters with:

Credentially is working hard to take the stress out of NHS recruitment. But not just for NHS recruiters. For you, too. Don’t just take our word for it, for due diligence you can check Credentially’s Trustpilot reviews. 

Navigating the NHS recruitment minefield 

Credentially doesn’t just solve recruiting and onboarding problems for NHS recruiters. We have developed an extensive database of clinical staff - including doctors, nurses, locums, healthcare workers and essential support staff - who are looking for new opportunities in the healthcare sector.

At the best of times, the NHS recruitment process is slow and complicated. And right now, with the extra demands placed on NHS recruiters, HR professionals, administrators, managers and clinical staff, the situation is only getting worse. 

Navigating the recruitment minefield is like crawling on broken glass towards a finish line that keeps getting moved further and further away. The NHS recruitment process can, should, and is currently being sped up by automation that’s specifically designed to tackle these very problems.

What does Credentially offer to healthcare professionals

If you’re a locum - or professional healthcare worker - who is accustomed to contract work in a variety of different settings, but fed up with the hassle of going through the mountain of paperwork involved in the recruitment process each time you want to apply for a new position, then let us take care of everything for you. Just complete our super fast and easy sign-up for healthcare staff, present your documents and let us carry out your pre-employment checks. Then you’re ready to go!

Worryingly, there has been a recent surge of fake job offers, which have arisen to trick job seekers into paying advance fees (supposedly for an International Worker’s Certificate and Registration Card), and present a risk to anyone applying for jobs in the healthcare sector. By signing up with Credentially, you’ll be protected from these fraudsters. We’ll be your first point of contact for all offers of work, so you can rest assured that every job you hear about from us is completely above board and on the level.

Hear from Credentially users

If you’ve made it this far down the article, you might as well read how easy Credentially users have it. Even those users within the NHS itself are stunned by the speed and quantity of candidates they’re able to onboard and get compliant. Who knows, play your cards right and you could be one of them. 

“It’s transformed the way we onboard doctors - we’re confident on compliance, save huge admin, and our doctors find it straightforward”. (Dr Yvette Coldicott, CMO of Doctorcare, Anywhere). 

“We make sure doctors are well-trained, CQC-compliant and receive a high-quality induction. With Credentially, we achieve this in a fraction of the time”. (Dr Anshumen Bahgat, Founder of GDPQ).

And it’s not just healthcare recruiters that reap the benefits. Credentially’s software benefits everyone, by streamlining healthcare recruitment to provide a faster, more efficient service all-round.


How can you automate compliance?
Easy, contact Credentially to find out more.
Book a Demo
Our client case studies
Learn how Dr Fertility have made their compliance process simple in preparation for their CQC inspection and the ability to evidence compliance quickly for inspectors.

Find out how Urgent Care provider HUC has drastically reduced time to hire down to as little as three days by automating credentialing and onboarding processes.

3 Reasons Providers Fail CQC Inspections

1
“No system to ensure all staff have full pre-employment checks completed”
2
“Failure to deploy adequate numbers of suitably qualified staff”
3
“No system in place to review and communicate role-specific training or policies to staff”

Are you CQC ready?

Yes
No
1. Do you think there is there a link between staffing and the ability to deliver safe, effective services?
2. Do you have any digital tools, such as online staff management, that can help get the right people on duty at the right time?
3. Can you automate key aspects of employee onboarding to ensure the right mix of skills is available within your teams?
4. Can you evidence documents, DBS checks, right to work checks, certifications, training records, policies and reporting for CQC inspectors?
5. Is all your documentation regularly kept up to date?
6. Do your staff understand their responsibilities and how well can they link their work back to current guidelines and best practices?
7. Can you evidence that policies are communicated to staff and they are read and understood?
8. Do you have a digital document management system in place to ‘send and sign’ new or amended policies or documents to staff?
9. Do you record staff training and development that you can show CQC inspectors?
10. Can you provide clear evidence of how you are developing and improving your services?

Take Action

More than 5 no's?
If you answered 'no' to any of the questions then you need onboarding and credentialing software to help you get CQC compliant.
How your competitors fixed it
Between 3-5 no's?
If you answered a mix of 'yes' and 'no' then you need to improve compliance in time for your CQC inspection.
Learn how to be CQC ready
Less than 2 no's?
It sounds like you’ve got a grip on things, but did you know you can automate compliance and credentialing to further improve processes and impress CQC?
Take it to the next level

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