‘Family First’ bid to improve recruitment

Published on 25 November

A hospital Trust is taking a novel approach to tackling recruitment issues – by pledging to find roles for partners of consultants offered a substantive post.

The Family First scheme has been launched by East Kent Hospitals as part of a package of work to encourage people to relocate to the area, under the leadership of Dr James Hadlow, Associate Medical Director for Remote and Rural Strategy.

James is a former Senior Strategy and Policy Lead at NHS England and NHS Improvement as part of the People Directorate, and led remote and rural strategy work there. He originally joined EKHUFT in 2006 as a house officer and developed a portfolio career alongside ongoing clinical work in intensive care and anaesthetics. He continued to work in the Trust for a number of years as a Clinical Fellow/Registrar before returning to support clinical colleagues during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, working in critical care.

James took up the Associate Medical Director role at EKHUFT in September 2020, a dual clinical and strategy role looking at the geographical challenges of east Kent and working with regional and national partners to address how to overcome them and attract more medical staff.

He said: “Recruitment and retention of staff is one of the biggest challenges for the NHS nationally, but in east Kent our location and demographics can exacerbate that.

“We know we can offer a fantastic lifestyle here, with great schools and a good work-life balance, but we also know that uprooting a family is a daunting prospect.

“Through Family First we can support people to relocate by offering roles to partners of prospective consultants, giving them the peace of mind that they will both have a job with us.

“We believe it is an innovative approach to addressing the issue, that will help us stand out as a flexible employer and will encourage people to apply for consultant roles with us.”

The scheme applies across the Trust, but is particularly focused on the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate, where recruitment is traditionally more challenging. But Trust managers hope the area’s combination of sandy beaches, lower house prices and grammar schools will help attract families.

Family members would need to demonstrate they meet the minimum criteria for any role advertised in order to request consideration under the Family First scheme. But if no suitable job is being advertised, and they are already working in a job that could be accommodated within the Trust, they will be offered a role on a supernumerary basis for up to two years and supported to apply for a substantive position when one comes up.

James added: “We are a large Trust so we are confident that a suitable role would become available within the timescale, allowing both partners to have the security of a permanent role with us.

“We hope to develop the scheme in the future with our partners in the wider East Kent ICP, allowing family members to apply for roles in the community and even potentially in the future, with local authorities as well.”

The scheme will initially run as a pilot, with a review within six to nine months.

For more information on working at East Kent Hospitals, visit https://www.ekhuft.nhs.uk/patients-and-visitors/work-here/