RECRUITING from India, attending UK job fairs and delivering keyworker accommodation are among the approaches being used to deal with ‘unacceptable’ vacancy rates within the Health Department, the minister has said.
Deputy Karen Wilson revealed that, as of last month, there were around 400 full-time-equivalent vacancies within her department – a rate of around 15%.
At the end of September, there were 99 vacancies within surgical services and 71 within mental health.
Responding to a written States question from Deputy Geoff Southern, Deputy Wilson outlined nine approaches being undertaken to recruit staff.
These include greater attendance at UK job fairs, which Deputy Wilson said had recently resulted in six candidates being identified for interview, and commissioning a specialist head-hunter to focus on midwifery recruitment.
The minister also said that the department would be ‘commissioning NHS Professional to undertake international recruitment in India to fill theatre nurse vacancies’, which had led to four candidates being lined up to start, with work continuing to ‘increase the intake on a regular basis’.
Deputy Wilson added that ‘as part of the Mental Health Community redesign work, there is a focus on introducing new roles which will be more attractive to candidates’ and that a social-media campaign aimed at radiographers was being created.
She said: ‘The vacancy rate is unacceptable. However, given the current market for health and social care staff globally, it is understandable and will be challenging to reduce.
‘The Chief Minister and States Employment Board are aware of the vacancy situation and the challenges Health and Community Services face, especially as part of discussions on the turnaround plan for HCS.’
Recruitment and retention issues have been felt across numerous sectors with the lack of suitable accommodation often being cited as one of the major factors in increasing staff shortages.
Earlier this month, Chief Minister Kristina Moore confirmed that the St Saviour’s Hospital site had been earmarked for a mixed development of prefabricated units that could include properties for the Island’s key workers.
During a recent Institute of Directors’ lunch event, Deputy Moore admitted that there needed to be a ‘particular focus on recruitment and retention of staff in critical frontline services’ including education, children’s social care and healthcare.
Deputy Wilson added that providing keyworker accommodation would be vital in reducing the Health Department’s vacancy rate. She said that one of the solutions under way was ‘working with Andium Homes on keyworker accommodation’ which had led to the government ‘securing half of one of their newly refurbished tower blocks, with an option to take on the whole of the final tower block next spring’.
‘This keyworker accommodation is to be shared between HCS and Children’s, Young People, Education and Skills,’ she added.