Earlier this year, a woman in Germany was sentenced to life in prison for causing patient deaths after forging a licence to obtain employment as an anaesthesiologist. Last year, a ‘fake doctor’ was accused of working at a Sydney hospital for eight months unchallenged, even though she had failed her exams and so had not obtained the correct qualifications. Back in 2018, a Florida teenager was sentenced to prison time for practicing medicine without a licence. He was busted by an undercover cop at his own medical practice where he posed as a physician – after obtaining a doctorate degree in divinity.

While these cases may be extreme, they highlight how individuals can slip through the net if best practice recruitment strategies are not in place – and why a unified standard is absolutely vital in high-risk and talent-short sectors such as healthcare.  

Here in the UK, the clinical and healthcare sector has been under immense strain for some time, a scenario that was pushed to breaking point during the pandemic. In fact, a recent report from the National Health Executive (NHE) reveals that four in five NHS workers are currently considering quitting their jobs. Over 63% of the 2000 respondents said that the stress and pressures of the recruitment issues in the NHS are negatively impacting their health. The majority (70%) also said the staffing issues are detrimentally affecting the quality of care they’re able to give, with understaffing levels said to be at unprecedented levels.

It is against this backdrop that the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) has launched a new best practice standard for the clinical and healthcare sector to support best practice hiring across the NHS and beyond.  

HR leaders operating within the health service and across other clinical settings know how important it is to get the right talent in place, at the right time – and the vast majority will work with specialist recruitment providers to ensure they can access the skills they need to operate. However, choosing the right partners is vital.   

The Compliance+ accreditation offers a badge of quality to recruiters who lead the way from a compliance and safeguarding perspective so that HR teams can rest assured that their staffing partners meet best practice requirements in areas such as policies and procedures and candidate registration. It has been constructed following extensive consultation with recruitment firms and external stakeholders including NHS Workforce Alliance and Health Trust Europe (HTE) and has been produced to both safeguard vulnerable persons and benchmark recruiters against the highest service deliverables.

In order to become Compliance+ accredited, staffing companies must pass a rigorous assessment process that is audited annually and demonstrate evidence that the firm is going above and beyond to provide clinical and healthcare employers with better-prepared, better-suited, and better-trained candidates.

By choosing Compliance+ accredited recruiters, HR leaders can rest assured that their recruitment partners are delivering more than the statutory safeguarding requirements, including:

Put simply, APSCo’s 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 people, and provides internal talent teams with safer, best suited, highest quality candidates. The Compliance+ standard presents both candidates and hirers 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 best-in-class services.

It can be awarded to recruiters habitually recruiting not only nurses, doctors, and midwives, but also allied health professionals such as biomedical scientists, orthoptists, paramedics, physiotherapists, and practitioner psychologists.

As Gary Snart, Sourcing Director at HealthTrust Europe LLP, notes: “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, regulatory and contractual requirements of supply are consistently met, gives healthcare providers the assurance and confidence they need to engage the supplier community openly. We embrace all initiatives that aim to improve quality standards and reduce risk in support of healthcare partners.” 

While Brexit, the pandemic and other external factors have certainly exacerbated the staff shortages in healthcare, 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 needs to fill around 112,000 job vacancies in any given day. While the staffing challenges currently facing healthcare are complex and not easily solved, one of the greatest challenges in this highly regulated space is finding staff quickly and compliantly – without over-inflated costs from off-framework providers. That’s where APSCo’s Compliance+ accreditation can and will improve recruitment practices right across clinical and healthcare.

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