Creating opportunities, not barriers for healthcare support workers at Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust

This case study shows how engaging with staff and the local community helped Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust overcome recruitment challenges and reduce healthcare support worker (HCSW) vacancies.

What was the problem?

Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust faced several challenges recruiting and retaining healthcare support workers (HCSWs). The area is isolated and coastal, with significant deprivation and low education rates. The recruitment processes were flawed: the trust required acute clinical experience but was the only site in the area that provided acute clinical experience. In addition, opportunities for progressing in an HCSW role were scarce.

What was the solution?

The trust sought a better understanding of the local workforce, identifying external barriers it faced in the community and internal ones when trying to get a job at the trust. The trust developed an aspiration and access programme, ‘Career Confidence’, which encouraged local people to explore the possibilities on offer to new HCSWs, and it advertised apprenticeships with clear career pathways.

As a result, the trust experienced a significant rise in the HCSW vacancy rate and had problems with safe staffing and quality of care. The HCSW career pathway structure was redesigned (see figure, right) and promoted to showcase how the trust could support and develop those in its local community who might not have access to such opportunities elsewhere.

What were the challenges?

Some potential recruits failed because of local educational challenges: otherwise suitable candidates did not have the requisite English and maths qualifications. To mitigate this, the trust offered support in completing these qualifications using funded programmes from a training provider – therefore at no cost to the trust.

What were the results?

HCSW vacancies reduced significantly , leading to an all-time low of under 2% in March 2019.

In addition, the trust now has a much better understanding of the local community, which will allow sustainable recruitment to continue.

To find out more, understand lessons learnt and plans please visit or read the attachments.

Alternatively, you can contact Paul Bunyan, Head of Recruitment and Employment Services via [email protected]


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