How to source and attract overseas doctors
There was a collective sigh of relief from healthcare professionals country-wide when the Home Office lifted its caps on visas for overseas doctors. With around 100,000 unfilled vacancies every month, the removal of a major obstacle that was seriously hampering recruitment was, of course, welcome news. However, NHS leaders and hiring managers must now focus on how to source, engage with, attract and retain these sought-after skilled professionals. Consequently, strategic workforce planning will be vital if Trusts are to fully capitalise on this rich talent pool.
Think long-term, not locum
There’s no denying that in recent years many hospitals have become reliant on locum doctors to help alleviate staffing shortages. However, given that supply and demand has pushed agency locum spend to astronomical heights – with some of these recruiters commanding fees in the region of £150,000 a year for providing a single doctor – no locum should be considered a viable alternative to sourcing a permanent doctor from overseas. Aside from the high costs, the repeated inductions and handovers create a model which lacks continuity, is less productive and doesn’t lend itself to providing the best care for patients. Overseas doctors, by way of contrast, are relocating and demonstrating long-term commitment. Once inducted, they provide much-needed stability to departments. Hirers that look beyond the immediate ease that locums provide and prioritise long-term workforce planning instead will create more established, solid teams for the future.
Having worked closely with over 70 NHS Trusts over the past five years, a key concern for many is how they can find and engage with doctors who are currently residing overseas. One way is to develop partnerships with medical schools and hospitals in target countries. Visiting doctors at source is particularly helpful - it not only gives Trusts an insight into the entire candidate journey, but it also helps them understand each doctor’s current experience. I’ve accompanied Trust Leaders to India, and it’s much more persuasive than any kind of advert and still more cost effective than hiring one locum for a year. Trusts should also foster relationships with the overseas equivalents of the UK’s Royal Colleges, as this is where experienced experts in relevant fields can be found.
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Once Trusts establish where their deepest potential talent pools can be found, attraction strategies which are tailored to the needs of overseas doctors come into play. Having placed over 600 doctors into NHS hospitals, there’s no question that they are looking for opportunities which enable them to develop their existing skills through ongoing training. Hospitals which can offer doctors the chance to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility for Specialist Registration will be preferred. Experienced doctors will welcome clear opportunities for research and teaching. Another appealing incentive is to offer doctors a multi-layered experience, with the opportunity to work in two very different hospitals. A number of Trusts have had great success in offering an ‘exchange’ between a district and city hospital, with a six month placement at each. A doctor could then experience an inner city A&E department before switching to a very different environment, for example.
When it comes to securing overseas doctors, the most successful Trusts are ones that make their transition to the NHS as easy as possible. It’s my firm belief that these professionals should receive nothing short of the red carpet treatment – after all they are making major life changes in order to relocate and they really are steering the future of our hospitals. Trusts which consider all of the challenges facing overseas doctors - such as choosing which language examination to sit, sourcing accommodation, choosing schools if they are bringing their children and setting up bank accounts – and provide support in these areas will be a much more attractive option when an individual is contemplating a move. Trusts should consider what more they can do to facilitate this transition – for example by blocking off hospital accommodation so that permanent overseas doctors take priority over locums, developing first class induction programmes and providing close mentoring.
And, once doctors are placed, Trusts will, of course, need to have a clear retention strategy. The most important element is to ensure that professionals have access to ongoing support from a settled substantive cohort of consultants. Then, over time, these settled doctors from overseas will become the mentors of tomorrow’s junior doctors.
Credit: Remedium Partners, a specialist consultancy which advises NHS trusts on departmental transformation. Over the last four years, Remedium has helped Trusts source over 600 permanent doctors and reduce their agency spend by over £50mn
Check Point: Securing the future of enterprise IT
Cybersecurity solutions provider Check Point was founded in 1993 with a mission to secure ‘everything,’ and that includes the cloud. Conscious that nothing remains static in the digital world, the company prides itself on an ability to integrate new technology with its solutions. Across almost three decades in operation, Check Point, with its team of over 3,500 experts, has become adept at protecting networks, endpoints, mobile, IoT, and cloud.
“The pandemic has been somewhat of an accelerator in the evolution of cyber risk,” explains Erez Yarkoni, Global VP for Cloud Business. “We had remote workers and cloud adoption a long time beforehand, but now the volume and surface area is far greater.” Formerly a CIO for several big-name telcos before joining Check Point in 2019, Yarkoni considers the cloud to be “part of [his] heritage” and one of modern IT’s most valuable tools.
Check Point has three important ‘product families’, Quantum, CloudGuard, and Harmony, with each one providing another layer of holistic IT protection:
- Quantum: secures enterprise networks from sophisticated cyber attacks
- CloudGuard: acts as a scalable and unified cloud-native security platform for the protection of any cloud
- Harmony: protects remote users and devices from cyber threats that might compromise organisational data
However, more than just providing security, Yarkoni emphasises the need for software to be proactive and minimise the possibility of threats in the first instance. This is something Check Point assuredly delivers, “the industry recognises that preventing, not just detecting, is crucial. Check Point has one platform that gives customers the end-to-end cover they need; they don't have to go anywhere else. That level of threat prevention capability is core to our DNA and across all three product lines.”
In many ways, Check Point’s solutions’ capabilities have actually converged to meet the exact working requirements of contemporary enterprise IT. As more companies embark on their own digital transformation journeys in the wake of COVID-19, the inevitability of unforeseen threats increases, which also makes forming security-based partnerships essential. Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP) sought out Check Point for this very reason when it was in the process of selecting Microsoft Azure as its cloud provider. “Let's be clear: Azure is a secure cloud, but when you operate in a cloud you need several layers of security and governance to prevent mistakes from becoming risks,” Yarkoni clarifies.
The partnership is a distinctly three-way split, with each bringing its own core expertise and competencies. More than that, Check Point, HOOPP and Microsoft are all invested in deepening their understanding of each other at an engineering and developmental level. “Both of our organisations (Check Point and Microsoft) are customer-obsessed: we look at the problem from the eyes of the customer and ask, ‘Are we creating value?’” That kind of focus is proving to be invaluable in the digital era, when the challenges and threats of tomorrow remain unpredictable. In this climate, only the best protected will survive and Check Point is standing by, ready to help.
“HOOPP is an amazing organisation,” concludes Yarkoni. “For us to be successful with a customer and be selected as a partner is actually a badge of honor. It says, ‘We passed a very intense and in-depth inspection by very smart people,’ and for me that’s the best thing about working with organisations like HOOPP.”