10th March 2023

Health and social care recruiting: Fancy a slice of the £9 billion pie?


The challenge of closing the health and care sector talent gap

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the UK’s Labour Party in December 2022 revealed that the National Health Service (NHS) spent £4.6 billion on agency doctors in the previous five years and as much as £5,200 for a single agency doctor shift.

Compared to the previous year, staffing firms have seen a 20% increase in spending to £3 billion. This is, however, dwarfed by the £6 billion spent by NHS trusts on internal ‘bank staff’ (NHS professionals paid to carry out temporary shifts, including employees looking for extra work) bringing the total spend on additional staff to more than £9 billion.

And while it is difficult to locate an equivalent figure for the social care sector, the total number of agency staff employed in care homes almost doubled between April 2021 and September 2022, from around 17,400 to 34,700.

The underlying reason for the use of temporary staffing measures is the failure of the health and social care sector to hire and retain staff in sufficient numbers. Across the working numbers of around 3 million total posts, there are a total of some 230,000 vacancies.

A significant opportunity

‘The Great Resignation’ is widely blamed for the talent gap that has developed in many developed economies. Shortfalls in the numbers of health and social care workers had been observed for many years and this was only exacerbated by the pressures put on the health, elderly and community care systems by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A shortage of healthcare workers is not a phenomenon restricted to the UK. Australia’s health services are experiencing similar problems at scale. Australia is facing a shortage of at least 110,000 direct aged-care workers within the next decade unless urgent action is taken to boost the workforce, a report by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) found.

For established recruitment businesses that may be looking for opportunities to diversify the sectors in which they operate, or entrepreneurs and startups, the health and social care sector is an opportunity that is certainly worth considering. However…As you can guess there is a road to be trodden and obstacles to be navigated.

The rules governing recruitment of migrant health workers to the UK

Illegal migration is a threat that many nations are struggling to deal with. There are as many as 100 million people globally currently estimated to be migrants; public opinion is politically sensitive and policy is robust.

As a result, recruiting health workers from overseas involves navigating a complex set of regulations and requirements to ensure compliance with UK immigration laws. Here is an outline of some of the key steps a recruitment agency would need to take:

These are just some of the key steps that a UK recruitment agency would need to take to comply with the rules governing migrant workers when recruiting health workers from overseas.

As with any new business venture or entry into a market, it is important to seek professional advice. It is imperative to ensure that all legal requirements are met, as the process can be complex and subject to change.

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Wherever you recruit your workers from, ETZ’s leading timesheet and invoicing solution streamlines the back office processing of your recruitment agency. Our complementary solutions, ETZ Comply for onboarding and document management and Caspian for business intelligence give agencies further capability to streamline and uncover opportunities. To find out more call us on 0800 311 2266 or book a demo.

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