An initial meeting was set up between NHS Employers and the trade unions to discuss possible solutions. Both partners recognised that a concerted effort was needed to retain the valuable skills of those graduates and ensure a return on investment in their training.
How trusts managed the problem
How the job pool worked and the lessons learnt
As a result of this meeting, a summit was held on maximising job opportunities in the NHS in February 2007. It was attended by a range of stakeholders including trade unions, the Department of Health, universities and other higher education establishments and representatives from the social care and voluntary sectors. The summit was endorsed by the Social Partnership Forum and was supported at the highest level.
Following the summit, a series of 29 recommendations were published in a document called ‘ Maximising employment opportunities for newly qualified healthcare professions in a changing NHS’
The recommendations set out action that could be taken both at a national and local level by all partners, including trade unions, NHS Employers, the Department of Health, Strategic Health Authorities and higher education institutes.
See the main recommendations from the report.
Trusts were encouraged to be more pro-active and some of the ideas that were put into practice were:
- Promoting their job opportunities, including options for transferability such as innovative posts in health promotion, occupational health and as paramedics
- The development of a local physiotherapy bank to support newly qualified individuals into future employment
- Recruiting into rotational posts on 12 month fixed contracts to cover for things like maternity leave
- Matrons and managers where possible and as a last resort, split jobs into part-time positions to provide additional opportunities for graduates to get some work experience
- Some trusts established ‘keep-in-touch’ clubs for graduates where they could meet up on a regular basis
- Working with local higher education institutions to plan their recruitment activity in order to provide opportunities for newly qualified graduates that were completing their programmes.
In the beginning of 2007, the Social Partnership Forum action plan recommended that newly qualified healthcare professionals pools were developed as part of the online recruitment service for NHS jobs. In April 2007, NHS Employers invited strategic health authorities to sign a contract for the supply of the pool service for a period of three years to 31 March 2010. This would enable the SHA to keep in touch with their graduates and support them in securing their first posts in the NHS.
The pools provide each SHA with a direct link to graduates who were actively seeking employment , allowing the SHA to communicate with them and work more closely with employers to provide opportunities and develop new ways of working. Each organisation within their respective SHA region was able to access the pool and therefore communicate with graduates within the pool, highlighting suitable vacancies and offering additional support.
The majority of the SHAs found the pools reliable and easy to use although some found the pools time consuming and too restrictive as they were not able to ascertain which locality they were particularly interested in, and they also experienced some technical issues. NHS Employers is currently in discussion with SHAs about the future of this service.
Some graduates felt that the pools were not always flexible enough, particularly if they wanted to work outside the SHA which had commissioned their training programme. The strong links between partners meant that CSP could feed this back to the SHA pool leads and secure agreement that graduates in this situation should contact their local lead direct for support.