According to Dr David Hogg, a GP based on the Isle of Arran in Scotland, the cost of recruiting doctors to work in rural areas on a short-term basis can be culled by taking a more holistic approach to recruitment.
In his blog hosted on the online edition of Pulse Today, a leading publication for GPs in the UK, Dr Hogg says that the NHS is missing a trick. He goes on to explain that one of the most important aspects of recruitment and retention for rural and remote healthcare services is often handled poorly. Relocation, says Dr Hogg, is often made difficult by HR processes that are unhelpfully bureaucratic and leave a lot of the legwork to the potential GPs, who would otherwise be willing to relocate.
He gives an example of a friend, who he says was very keen to work for a Scottish health board that is desperate to attract GPs. His friend gave up, Dr Hogg explains, after a series of mistakes and unreturned phone calls.
Dr Hogg, who has recommended Scottish rural practice to recently-qualified GPs since he took up a GP Rural Fellowship on the Isle of Arran in 2010, describes relocation as a crucial hurdle in the recruitment process and suggests that getting the relocation process right would have a positive impact on both locum budgets and the resources spent on advertising and trying to attract the right candidates. There are many opportunities that could reduce bureaucracy and streamline the recruitment of GPs and other healthcare staff, writes Dr Hogg, including introducing a single performers’ list in Scotland.
Advocating that the NHS takes a more global approach to recruitment, Dr Hogg suggests that there is something to be learned from multi-national companies that include the needs of spouses and the children of recruits in relocation plans. While he does not explicitly advise that the NHS provides introductory social occasions, organises schooling and refunds the cost of family visits, he does cite the three as a point from which to begin reconsidering the current approach to rural recruitment. In the wake of spiralling short-term recruitment costs, he says, it makes sense to consider placing value on the partners and families of potential healthcare staff in rural areas.
While admitting that there are other factors that contribute to the recruitment crisis, Dr Hogg concludes that the time and energy being spent advertising positions in rural locations justifies further efforts, especially by HR departments, to make relocation both fair and feasible for dedicated GPs who are up for the challenge.
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