The clinical and healthcare sector in the UK has been under immense strain for some time, a scenario that was pushed to breaking point during the pandemic. And it doesn’t appear that the staff shortages faced by this sector will be resolved any time soon, with recent headlines revealing that the NHS is now facing the worst staffing crisis in its history.

The combination of Covid-19 and the fallout from Brexit is certainly exacerbating the sector’s skills shortages. However, the profession has faced talent challenges for many years, and the nature of the sector means that urgent and temporary demands often outstrip supply. In fact, Skills for Care has previously reported that the adult social care sector in England needed to fill around 112,000 job vacancies on any given day. One of the greatest challenges faced by recruitment professionals in this highly regulated space is finding staff quickly and compliantly.

The clinical and healthcare sector frequently requires staff to be in contact with vulnerable and young people or children who require the safest possible care, so filling a position with a candidate who is not only compliant but will also adhere to strict safeguarding measures is essential. As those in the sector will attest to, there’s a wealth of different standards that need to be adhered to, and approaching this can be daunting, even for an experienced recruitment professional.

Gary Snart, sourcing director at HealthTrust Europe LLP, reinstates the importance of high-class compliance standards in healthcare, adding: “Raising the bar on standards in compliance for healthcare remains both critical and fundamental to the delivery of safe patient care across the UK. Embedding robust policies, processes, governance and auditing to ensure employment checks, safeguarding checks, mandatory training, counter fraud, [and] regulatory and contractual requirements of supply are consistently met gives healthcare providers the assurance and confidence they need to engage the supplier community openly.”

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With multiple frameworks to navigate, recruiters have a number of hoops they need to jump through to demonstrate they can not only quickly source the right talent but also ensure they meet the strict safeguarding and training requirements of the sector. At APSCo, we found that these often time-sensitive recruitment challenges called for a better solution for recruitment professionals in the clinical and healthcare sector that would support best practice standards. For this reason, Compliance+ was created, launching last month at an event in the House of Lords. The Compliance+ accreditation was constructed following extensive consultation with recruitment firms and external stakeholders, including NHS Workforce Alliance and Health Trust Europe (HTE). This has been produced to both safeguard vulnerable people and benchmark recruiters against the highest service deliverables, giving them the framework to meet all sector-specific requirements.

Shazia Imtiaz, general counsel at APSCo, was a key player in the creation of the Compliance + accreditation for the sector. She commented: “Our new accreditation sets the best quality standards, beyond the statutory safeguarding requirements, for recruitment businesses that operate in the clinical and healthcare sector. It establishes a compliance framework that safeguards vulnerable persons and provides clients with safer, best-suited, highest-quality candidates. APSCo’s new Compliance+ standard presents both candidates and clients with an easy-to-identify accreditation that verifies the recruitment partner they are working with is fully compliant, has been annually audited by an independent third party, meets all safeguarding requirements and will provide the best-in-class services.”

If the UK hopes to overcome the severe staffing struggles faced by the clinal and healthcare sector, then initiatives that aim to provide a robust solution for those operating in the sector need to be embraced by talent acquisition leaders and employers alike. Only then will the recruitment quality standards for these positions improve so that candidates can be placed in a timely, risk-free manner.

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