Senior NHS human resources vacancies unfilled because suitable candidates are not coming forward

A range of top human resources jobs in the NHS are being left unfilled because senior professionals are reluctant to take on challenging roles.

The situation has led NHS Employers, the body res­ponsible for workforce issues, to call for urgent action to improve the movement of human resources (HR) staff within the health service.

Sian Thomas, deputy director of NHS Employers, said there were a number of workforce and HR director-level jobs going begging. She pointed to the situation at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, where the HR director vacancy had been advertised twice, but failed to attract a suitable candidate.

“We have lots of talent in the health service, but need to encourage experienced people to take on different and difficult roles,” she told Personnel Today. “[Employers] need to understand how to get people with great jobs to move into difficult jobs.”

She called for the NHS to adopt a “systemic approach” to HR talent management.

“We won’t be making these things happen by wishing, and we need to identify and support people throughout their careers,” Thomas said.

She admitted that if the situation did not improve, trusts would stop hiring HR chiefs, with their responsibilities swallowed by other corporate functions. NHS Employers will be joining forces with the Department of Health and the Healthcare People Management Association to tackle the issue, she added.

NHS workforce director-general Clare Chapman talked about improving talent-spotting within the service in her speech to HR delegates at the NHS Employers conference in October.

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