that time of the year when depressing stories about the crisis in the NHS are a
staple of headlines and news broadcasts. Most of the media stories are the
consequence of chronic skills shortages in NHS trusts, such as the trust
reported to the Health and Safety Commission last week for failing to implement
the Working Time directive. The latest
report on the rise in violence against frontline staff is a symptom of an
over-stretched and under-resourced service.
Government’s promise of an extra 36,000 staff is welcome but it will be some
years before trained staff can come on line, and NHS cash in the past has
tended to get absorbed into propping up the existing service.
the challenge facing HR professionals in the health service is a daunting one.
Apart from the recruitment and retention problem, HR has a key role to play in
implementing new performance measures, following a series of health care
scandals. However, there are signs that the health service is rising to the
occasion. Many trusts have led the way for employers as a whole in recruiting
staff, mostly nurses, from overseas.
year a plan for an NHS-wide on-line recruitment service was announced. And last
week Andrew Foster, NHS Confederation policy director for HR, outlined
proposals for a skills escalator where existing staff can be trained in new
skills. He even suggested a hospital porter could work his way up to become a
consultant an ambitious agenda given the traditional strict lines of
demarcation in the medical profession.
before you laugh, it is worth noting that one porter has risen to the role of
chief executive. The NHS does not have a good reputation as a place to work,
and HR professionals have a long way to go to put that right. But a willingness
to follow Foster’s lead and be innovative could help solve the problem.