Streamlining employment checks

Pen and form

The London streamlining pre-employment workstream identified a number of opportunities to work with, they were:

  • to streamline performance
  • to reduce time to hire
  • to reduce vacancy rates
  • to reduce agency spend.

The first phase of work focused on the employment checks that trusts are required to do and compared that to what the best practices were across the trusts. What the programme found was that some of the policy documents did not reflect the best practices and in some instances actually restricted the trusts ability to achieve high quality checks and short time to hire. 

The programme then started to work with NHS Employers to make the NHS Employers employment check standards more robust and enable trusts to reduce their time to hire. The results have been fantastic and the first trusts that have been through the improvement are claiming a six week reduction in time to hire, resulting in reductions of their spend on agency back-fill.

Other trusts are now going through the same process improvements. The evidence shows that standards are rapidly rising and time to hire and agency spend is falling. 

In particular, the revised employment check standards promotes the following:

  • Use of ID document scanning technology and highly trained staff to help eliminate the risk of employing imposters or illegal workers.
  • Use of eDBS and periodic checks for all eligible staff (e.g. every three or five years).  This reduces the risk of employing staff with unacceptable criminal records.
  • Move to factual references obtained from the previous employer instead of the highly subjective references gained from the applicants preferred referees. This is reducing the time to hire by weeks and reducing the risk of fake and fraudulent references.
  • Move to the two statement self-declaration for occupational health away from gathering long four or more pages of health questions. This saves time and reduces risk.

These changes, combined with many others, enable high quality checks to be completed within just a few days rather than waiting weeks for all the documentation to be pulled together.

The London programme team, have:

  • worked with trusts across London to implement the improvements detailed above
  • worked with trusts to redesign the new starter process, so that the time to start is kept to a minimum and so that new starters do not have to duplicate unnecessary employment checks or training
  • worked with trusts to accurately forecast how many staff they need in certain positions and proactively recruiting to vacancies, thereby dramatically reducing vacancy rates and agency spend
  • conducted an end-to-end review of all recruitment processes to identify best practice and understand where time can be saved, duplication avoided and costs reduced whilst always looking for ways to improve the quality.

You can read the NHS Employment Check Standards, which have been revised and republished.

You can also watch video case studies and read a selection of case studies from London trusts involved in the streamlining programnme. 

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