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United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust -‘Time to Recruit’ slashed from 10 weeks to only 6

Tue 4th February, 2014
United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust -‘Time to Recruit’ slashed from 10 weeks to only 6

In the past 6 years, over 120,000 staff in 120 NHS Trusts have highlighted one of the greatest challenges they face delivering great patient care: delays and challenges in the system to recruit the right staff at the right time. It impacts safe staffing levels, agency/bank costs, staff morale, and ultimately the quality and safety of patient care.

At United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, frontline staff - frustrated by the bureaucracy and delays involved in recruiting staff into posts which were 'blocking the way' to providing great patient care – decided to do something about it.

Something had to change quickly - and change it did! In a brave move, immediately following an LiA Conversation in which recruitment came up as an issue, the existing Vacancy Control Process was effectively abolished by the Deputy Chief Executive. This was 'triumphantly received' by staff across the Trust. It was a very clear sign that staff were being listened to and it was a decision which impacted a lot of people.

Once the old process was put aside a new one needed to be developed. Sarah Lockwood, a Recruitment Manager at the Trust says:

“It was clear that staff wanted to support reducing recruitment timescales and this was a clear theme at our LiA Staff Conversations. Where recruitment makes a difference is with the right staff, right skills and right experience. It also relies on a clear transactional process. Our mission was to concentrate on time ‘from advert to conditional offer’. The Trust's current performance was measured on a 10 week target, with performance at 92.6%, but we wanted to reduce this to 6 weeks. So our mission statement was born: 'To get the right mix, we do it in 6'!

“Our achievements include seeing barriers removed, business cases signed off, technological advances approved and process reviews directly requested by our ‘customers’ changed. Our direct intent was to improve the 'feel' of recruitment, improve the experience of managers, and, most importantly, to reduce timescales so managers can concentrate on other aspects of their role and new starters get into post sooner, thereby improving patient care. Our focus and commitment is driven around our desire to provide high quality healthcare.

“So our journey has started and our performance against the 6 week target will be monitored moving forwards”

The changes have already had a positive impact on patient safety in A&E. Nurse consultant Helen Callaghan says:

“The reduction in time to recruit has had a significant impact on our ability to respond effectively to fluctuations in our staffing levels. This has led to an improved and safer service as we know that workforce vacancies can be filled much more quickly than before. This has stabilised our service and several recent new recruits have fed back to us that they were impressed by the efficiency of the recruitment process”.


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