Its undeniable that healthcare has a global problem with the workforce. The loss of boomer generation professionals, the freedom to migrate to where the work and tax suit you, and the increasing cost of clinical education are just part of the problem. In some specialties such as dermatology, there is now a twenty percent vacancy rate nationally for consultant roles, attributed by some to the level of risk involved in a specialty where cancer rates are so high.
And General Practice hasn’t been immune to these pressures. For some, the hope of escaping the night shifts of acute settings has been a draw, but changes to pensions and tax allowances have seen a raft of retirees and emigration in both family doctors and nurses.
The creation of more diversely trained clinical teams lauded by national bodies is part of the solution. But the lack of focus on the impact this has, for example of community pharmacy, when professionals are suddenly extracted en masse to fill gaps in General Practice is just one of the problems this creates. Here, perhaps, a greater focus on schemes like the Community Pharmacy Consultation Service, and providing digital decision support and care navigation to practices to be able to safely redistribute work into pharmacy might be a more beneficial approach. And what of our valued colleagues in Dental and Optometry? Both these groups were completely ignored in the NHS People Plan. There are undoubtedly skills and services where demand could be better channelled. If the likes of Uber can match demand with capacity, why can’t we achieve the same by redistributing demand across the four quarters of the primary care landscape more effectively?
But these big questions of policy and market forces are well beyond the control of most practices.
The key to the survival of an individual provider lies in creating an attractive place to work, and looking for talent in the best places.
In his 2009 book ‘Drive’, Dan Pink explains that autonomy, mastery of a task and being part of a bigger purpose are more important to staff than just the pay packet. Our own research has identified the importance of childcare, work-life balance, the achievability of the quantity of work that needs doing, and making a difference to your community. For some, it’s about professional interest, through portfolio careers, moving into teaching or training the next generation of staff, or being able to take charge of key parts of the business, such as leading on quality or improving profitability.
When the workforce is in short supply, you need a partner who can match candidates to the practice so that you not only attract the right staff, but keep them too. Closer offer a range of services from independent practice reviews to make your practice the most attractive it can be, workforce planning and preparing for the retirement of key staff, profitability analysis to help you to afford the staff you need, and most importantly, our matching service to bring the right people to you. If you think workforce might be an area you need to look at for the future, or you have a vacancy now, why not call to see how our General Practice specialist team can bring our expertise to work with you and get closer to the solutions you need.