Addressing the symptoms of this ‘disease’ seems like a never-ending vicious cycle. The huge shortage of permanent healthcare professionals in the NHS results in an intolerable amount of stress for current employees. It therefore comes as no surprise that retention and absenteeism rates have risen. The increase in these rates have a direct impact on the number of gaps needing filled and consequently, on the frequency and quality of patient care. This demonstrates that each symptom has repercussions.
Although a recent report from The King’s Trust states that 28% of nurses leave the NHS “within the first three years of their service”, the number of doctors who quit is even greater. In 2017, the GMC reported that there were 9000 cases of ‘DREXIT’ (Doctor Exit) and 57.4% of F2 doctors chose not to progress into higher-training posts. The requirement for a transformational change to control this exacerbating domino effect has therefore reached maximum importance.
How can a directed approach be used to combat the emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion that frontline medical staff are suffering from? How can we revive a workforce of such high importance?
Before employing the necessary retention strategies, Remedium advocates for a ‘recruitment first’ approach. Increasing the number of health professionals in all grades and specialties is recognised as the primary strategy to decrease the excessive workload placed on current employees. A shortage of clinicians leaves those working to pick up the pieces.
Remedium’s workforce consulting service provides Trusts with on-going support by using capacity demand modelling. Once a bespoke rota has been built that better serves their current and future demand needs, the second approach to relieving the numerous workforce pressures is through fostering a better working culture.
At Remedium, we do our best to ensure that all our placed doctors are supported at every step of their journey. As a result, we ask that this compassion is replicated from all our clients to tackle and solve one of the root causes of the healthcare staffing crisis.
Potential strategies include the promotion of a collaborative, inclusive and learning work culture which recognises all employees’ development and successes. This can be achieved through the creation of small support groups which are formed of employees in different grades in order to:
-Foster lines of communication
-Improve diversity and integration
-Enable all health professionals to share and learn best practice
Along with Remedium’s pioneering digital CPD accredited course, this integrated team-based approach is particularly important in ensuring the smooth transition of international clinicians into their new role. An international doctor reiterated this by stating that when he started, he wishes that he had known “to not be afraid to ask for help.” His thought process was that:
“medicine is very hierarchical and you’re quite frightened of your seniors in some ways. Sometimes when you’re a junior you worry about asking for help. You think it’s a sign that you don’t know what you’re doing. In reality, the opposite is true. You absolutely have to ask people to help. There are loads of situations where you particularly as a junior won’t know the answer. And the way that you learn and get better is to seek help.”
These aforementioned strategies are vital due to the number of international doctors entering the NHS being encouraged to increase. Trusts often look to recruit UK trained clinicians however, this is recognised as another detrimental symptom to the disease. This approach does not take into account the best interests of all Trusts but instead is seen as robbing one Trust to pay another. Hence, the recruitment of overseas doctors provides a solution to all. The supply of international doctors is sufficient and therefore the required medicine to treat this disease is feeding these doctors with the knowledge and know-how of working in a new cultural context.