A recent report by the national audit office (NAO) into digital transformation across the NHS highlighted that specialist skills in healthcare IT are in short supply and national bodies have not finalised plans to improve the workforce’s digital skills. Ahead of a Digital Health Webinar, Louise Brennan, programme manager for the graduate informatics and technology fast track scheme explores why recruitment is a real issue. 

Recruiting into health informatics and technology has been a real problem for years. When I first started working in the NHS, one of things that struck me was the high number of informatics and technology managers – regardless of organisation type, that just couldn’t recruit into band 7 plus roles.

Hiring Mangers would place an advert on NHS jobs and 180 applicants would apply. It would take three days to go through short-listing, and if they managed to get five candidates scheduled for interview, most wouldn’t turn up and for those that did, they just didn’t have the skills. This meant having to re-advertise.

Need for a grad scheme

All this time and energy to find suitable informatics professionals – this just wasn’t working. The other thing that struck me is that we had no tech grad scheme that would be the natural pipeline into these band 7 roles. This is why I started the grad scheme  – we had to build our skills pipeline.

Once we started the scheme, we got inundated at University careers fairs from graduates once they started to realise the NHS could have a career for them in data and technology. And the thanks we got for helping them find their first role in the NHS was heart-warming.

Designed by the NHS, for the NHS

The NHS doesn’t have a brand issue – it’s working just fine. What we didn’t have was the right mechanism to get to our graduates into our trusts. That’s where we were falling down. We now have a solution, we have a mechanism that is working – it’s the Graduate Informatics and Technology Fast Track Scheme.

We have over 5,000 graduates that apply each year, from all over the county clambering to start their career in the NHS/healthcare sector. They want to work with us, we just need to pick them up, before some other employer does – don’t we deserve to have the brightest informatics and technology grads coming out of our universities?

All the big tech employers have been out to our UK Universities, picking up 1000s of our staff, year after year while sadly we have sat back and let them.

I’m very pleased to say, we are now giving them a run for their money. We have the first national Informatics & Technology grad scheme, designed by the NHS for the NHS.  To get your next talented grad – just drop us a line.

Louise will be joined by Alan Davies, innovative programmes and partnerships director at Health Education England and Lisa Emery, CIO at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust for a Digital Health Webinar on May 29. 

The panel will discuss the grad scheme in more detail along with expansion plans.