Cumbria Crack

Local NHS organisations working together to attract recruits across the UK

stethoscope[H]ealth teams and recruitment specialists are reaching out to professionals across the country to encourage others to join the NHS in Cumbria.

The NHS locally, like elsewhere in the UK, experiences challenges in recruiting clinical staff to some specialty areas. However, teams are working to address this with a packed schedule of local and national recruitment fairs and a new stand out campaign – which have helped to attract around 100 additional recruits in the last six months alone.

Teams from North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust (NCUH), Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) and North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) have been joining forces to promote health careers in Cumbria together to get the most out of their efforts.

Amanda Dunkley, HR Project Manager at CPFT and NCUH, explained: “While we do everything we can to recruit health professionals in Cumbria, it’s important that we recruit staff from outside the county too. The careers fairs are another way of reaching a large number of job seekers and we’ve had some great success. We’ve also held our own local careers fairs and promoted these through NHS jobs and social media to reach a wider audience. We are in the process of arranging our third event and have been delighted with the feedback these days have received.”

The fairs target students starting out on their career as well as those considering a career change or a new role. Freya Lama recently joined CPFT as a mental health nurse on Yewdale Ward at the West Cumberland Hospital, Whitehaven after meeting the team at a recruitment fair at the Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle in September.

Freya, originally from Leeds, studied at University of Nottingham and graduated in January. Freya was a finalist in the Student Nurse of the Year: Mental Health category of the 2018 Nursing Times Awards and impressed the recruitment team with her passion for mental health care. Freya said:

“I saw the recruitment fair advertised on NHS jobs and decided to go along. It was a really fun day and gave me a good understanding of what to expect from a career in Cumbria. The team made so much effort and even took myself and another attendee, who is soon to join CPFT, around Carleton Clinic. They told us about their career paths and made us feel so welcome.

“I joined the team at Yewdale in February and already feel like I’ve been here for years. My partner works in Cumbria which is what inspired me to look at careers here. It’s such a beautiful area and the lifestyle is brilliant, with lots of walking opportunities and nice restaurants.”

Clinical staff join recruitment teams at the events to answer any specific questions that attendees may have. Linda Bennetts, Associate Director of Nursing for Mental health, added: “I think it’s really important for clinical staff to attend the fairs to meet new recruits and tell them what it’s really like to work in Cumbria. We can answer questions about specific roles and give advice to potential recruits. I recently moved to Cumbria myself so have a good understanding of the types of things someone considering the move needs to know.”

Caroline Hastings, Operations Manager for Cumbria and North Lancashire at NWAS, said: “It makes perfect sense to work together as one team. We’re all trying to do the same thing so by joining up we reduce duplication and can give potential recruits the full picture of health services in Cumbria. It gives a really positive message about how we’re working together as one health and care system and has been well received by attendees. Nowhere else in the country is doing what we are doing in Cumbria and lots of other regions are looking to replicate our approach.”

Amanda added: “The new ‘is this you?’ branding for our recruitment campaign, developed with the help of local people, has really helped us stand out and brings us all together as one team. It’s different to the other stands and gets people talking. We want to show that there’s so much more to Cumbria than lakes and hills, we have some unique development opportunities and closer working across the health and care system makes for a really exciting future.”

In the last six months the teams have attended 17 jobs fairs where they have engaged with over 600 candidates. A further four fairs have been confirmed over the coming months ahead of a busy schedule of autumn events. The careers fairs are just one of many ways the NHS in Cumbria is recruiting more health and care professionals.

In addition the teams have visited Poland twice on successful recruitment trips and been to Eastern Europe to develop links with nursing universities in the region. They are working closely with local education providers to encourage the future generation to choose a career in health and care. Developments in apprenticeship programmes provide a new route into a nursing career and a recent Step into Work scheme has supported 11 people who have been unemployed for a long period to gain work experience within the NHS.