The press has been full of a raft of recent reports about the looming crisis that faces NHS Accident and Emergency Departments (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-22607984 ). With attendances having risen by 50% over the past decade, and pressures forecast to continue to grow, NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar has stated the service is getting “closer and closer to the cliff edge.”
Media comments on the A&E situation are reaching fever pitch but the truth of the matter is the NHS is just one of many parts of the public sector struggling to cope with increasing levels of demand and ever decreasing budgets. REC Education has repeatedly highlighted the demographic challenges facing our schools for instance (http://www.rec.uk.com/press/news/2324 ).
It is clear urgent action is needed to tackle this situation in both the short and long term. The REC has consistently argued that sustainable and safe staffing levels are vital to the delivery of efficient public services, with a balance reached between quality and cost. If our public services are to react to varying levels of demand and maximise the resources available to them, either on a hospital ward on a Friday night or across a multi-year project to commission new warships, they need to have the ability to source the right staff as and when they are needed. In order for this to happen, the public sector must be more innovative in the way it uses its flexible, contingent workforce.
So what does this innovation look like? In 2010 the REC published Hire Power, a thought piece that charts the debate on the future of public sector resourcing against a backdrop of significantly reduced spending. Since the publication of the report, the REC’s public sector resourcing campaign has focused on sustainable procurement practices, effective workforce management and ensuring SME access to the public services market.
Three years on from Hire Power the time has come to look again at how private sector recruitment intermediaries can add value to the public sector. The REC’s forthcoming event Talent management in difficult times will focus on how public sector employers can manage their flexible, contingency workforce to improve the performance of public services. Kevin Green, REC Chief Executive, will be joined by Dean Royles, Director of NHS Employers and Chairman of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and Karen Beamish, Strategic Development Consultant, Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply, amongst others to look at the key issues at hand and discuss what effective innovation in this significant area looks like.
Recruiters are key players in finding the leaders of the future, in accessing interim change management expertise and in delivering the workforce flexibility that already underpins the public sector business model. As public services continue to struggle, it is more important than ever that the part they have to play in formulating solutions is realised.