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Rapid recruitment and training of expert CHC nurses to tackle the assessment backlog caused by COVID-19

Our programme helped the NHS to restore, recover and renew following the enormous disruption caused by COVID-19. It has created a blueprint for future recruitment and retention of expert Continuing Healthcare (CHC) practitioners, helping us to respond to this current crisis and be in a better place to respond to the next.

The enormous pressures placed on CCGs to recover from the backlog in CHC assessments following the suspension of the CHC Framework for six months during the COVID-19 pandemic required a rapid, flexible and targeted recruitment and training process not delivered before. NHS MLCSU worked in partnership with NHS England/Improvement (NHSEI) to develop a virtual talent workforce pool via the Bring Back Staff (BBS) returners programme. We sourced staff from many healthcare professions who came to the project with a wealth of valuable experience to share, and we saved CHC employers at least 260 hours of recruitment, administration and onboarding time.

We set up a rapid recruitment process and provided people with equipment by courier, allowing us to function even at the height of the national lockdowns. Our candidates received a bespoke training package, and were trained, supported, mentored and given clinical supervision by experienced CHC professionals via interactive webinars and training videos that we developed in-house.

A number of tailored packages of support were developed to encourage returning staff to join the initiative and an offer has been developed with a view to ensuring the future sustainability of the project.

Candidates were able to be brought onboard in between two-to-four weeks, which meant that members of this workforce were then ready to begin their roles with partner organisations already trained and ready for local induction to commence.

The programme attracted people who wanted to work flexibly in the NHS and retained their commitment, expertise and experience, offering the best use of resources and public investment.

Being able to train our BBS returners at pace and then mobilise this agile workforce illustrated just how adaptable and transferable their skills and previous experience were and how useful their expertise was to NHS CHC.

The project offered CCGs and providers access to an NHS CHC workforce that is trained to national standards and offered the opportunity to offer virtual assessments so that the workforce could work flexibly nationwide, where needed.

This virtual workforce model proposes a blueprint for future workforce solutions across the NHS, not just for NHS CHC and will help to reduce the costs associated with delivering and coordinating a solely face-to-face CHC assessment service

“Once they informed MLCSU I was contacted immediately and the process of recruitment began, swiftly and seamlessly. Once contracted to work for the team I received the equipment required for the role – laptop and phone plus a very comprehensive set of instructions for the necessary IT, contacts, team leaders and team meetings, etc.

I feel supported in all aspects. The training is thorough and clear, I have a workbook to progress through, I am currently awaiting shifts whereby I will shadow experienced Nurse Assessors, I have practice care plans to follow. As I say, I can compare with recent experience plus 44 years as a skilled Registered Nurse and I am enjoying my experience with MLCSU CHC and only wish I had started sooner.”

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