Healthdaq® (formerly known as HealthSectorTalent®) a global healthcare talent consultancy has been shortlisted for Innovation in Recruitment Award at this year’s Personnel Today Awards in the UK.

The shortlisted entry is for the company’s role in designing, building and managing a large-scale whole of health system, multi-stakeholder and time-sensitive recruitment campaign on behalf of the Department of Health Northern Ireland during the initial outbreak of Covid-19 in March 2020.

The following excerpt of the shortlisted campaign is profiled on the Personnel Today website.

Northern Ireland’s health and social care system employs 58,000 people and includes the Department of Health, Public Health, five NHS Trusts and Northern Ireland’s Ambulance Service. The system came under significant pressure during the coronavirus pandemic, with increased demand for services, higher than usual sickness absence and the need to rapidly build a contingent workforce. It also needed to facilitate the recruitment of final-year medical, nursing and allied health students, alongside doctors and nurses that had either retired or left the profession.

Healthdaq supported NI’s DoH to assemble a recruitment project team made up of key stakeholders, forming a central recruitment command and control centre to act as a single point of contact. Application and interview processes needed to adhere to protocols while working around restrictions such as social distancing and remote working. Over the course of 35 days, a team of 162 people working across nine organisations delivered the largest recruitment campaign of its kind in Northern Ireland.

Candidates had to complete a two-step registration and application, selecting their occupation group and preferred geographical location. A total of 20,085 initial expressions of interest were received by the campaign with over 4,000 in the first 24 hours of being launched. These then needed to be screened before formal application – 11,642 formal applications were completed representing a 57.9% conversion rate from expressions of interest received. Candidates were kept updated at every stage of the process.

While there is no direct comparative data as the pandemic was a new challenge, the success of the recruitment campaign can be measured against the Republic of Ireland’s Covid-19 hiring drive, which only resulted in 63 candidates starting.

In Northern Ireland, 420 nurses were recruited directly by six employers, bypassing the need to use agencies. The equivalent cost of recruiting this number of nurses from overseas would be over £4.6m, while the reduction in agency spend is around £19.4m per annum based on an hourly inclusive rate of £23.71.

The HSC Workforce Appeal was reopened by the Health Minister on 2 October 2020.