The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated longstanding inequalities such as, a lack of access to healthcare, poor health outcomes and poor access to education, training and employment opportunities. We know that access to good work is one of the most important factors for reducing health inequalities and supporting inclusive sustainable economies. As the NHS is the largest employer in England, with a presence in every place, it can play an important role in supporting local communities beyond the provision of health care. As an anchor institution the NHS can offer good work to local people to help address inequality, contribute to wider economic and social recovery and support levelling up.
Through inclusive recruitment the NHS can fill workforce gaps, create a sustainable pipeline of talented staff and better retain its people. It can support social mobility and play a key role in tackling health inequalities. This will mean promoting and opening job opportunities to those in greatest need of good work and recruiting differently.
Throughout the pandemic, the health service became a beacon of hope and pride for the public. This translated into a surge of visits to the Health Careers website, universities reporting unprecedented interest in healthcare degrees and large numbers of applications to work in roles in the sector, including in the new vaccination centres. Despite the rapidly changing labour market we have an opportunity to explore different ways of working with other organisations (for example, local government and colleges) to focus on skills, development and employment and to create more of these sorts of opportunities for the mutual benefit of the NHS, our partners and the communities we serve.
This briefing is for ICS leaders and decision makers in local NHS organisations, who are working to ensure local recruitment and employment strategies help to tackle inequalities and support social and economic recovery, as well as create a sustainable supply pipeline of talented staff.