The Remedy of Recruitment
Simon Kent discovers how Remedium Partners has developed as it serves the demands of the health sector.
Philip Braham is unapologetic about describing Remedium Partners as a recruitment agency, even though the term can switch people off in the health sector where he works. But while the knee-jerk reaction is due to on-going need to reduce agency spend, Braham’s business is as committed to that target as anyone else. Having already managed to reduce the spend for some of the health organisations he works with, Braham is positive about his contribution because his concern is with fighting the talent and skills challenge in a sustainable way, helping the health service to become better and more sustainable in its people management. Remedium Partners does not exist just to fill gaps, it is not growing just because it serves an ever increasing demand, it’s growing because it is also addressing the reasons why the gaps are there in the first place. “Of course we recruit the people the health service needs,” says Braham, “but a lot of the pre-work we do before that is about demand modelling, to make sure the Trusts we work with are getting the most out of the people they already have. If you address the reasons behind the demand, if you look at the way the rotas work, you might find you don’t need as many clinicians as you first thought. So that saves time and money to begin with. Then we can go and find the ten people you really need.” Since its creation with two men in a back-garden shed, Remedium have developed their approach to finding that talent, positioning itself as a partner within the health service, offering to find, educate, attract and onboard the necessary talent. The company has a team of more than a dozen people on the ground in India going into hospitals, talking to potential talent and discovering those who would be open to making a move to the UK and work for the NHS. The business has also taken specialists from Trusts across the UK to hospitals within the country, putting them in front of registrars and medical professionals and enabling them to talk about how the NHS works and what opportunities could await those who want to come to the UK.
In every case, if talent from overseas decides to make the move, Remedium will ensure their experience is exactly as they expect, that they – and their family where applicable – are looked after with any promises made beforehand such as training and development while in post are delivered. “If doctors come here we want them to know they will be looked after and have the things they need to be successful,” says Braham. “It’s not fair to bring someone over without them understanding what’s involved, what’s happening in the NHS and what’s it like to work here.” Chief on the agenda when bringing new staff into the NHS is to help them understand the system through which care is provided. Braham notes that healthcare, the act of helping people and delivering that service is the same all over the world, but what is different is the system through which that care is delivered. It would be the same if a UK medical professional went to another country – the principals and actions of care are the same, but it can take a few months for them to understand the way the organisations they work for operates. As well as having their own search team on the ground Remedium also takes healthcare professionals from the UK to India to talk about their work. This forms a two-way benefit for everyone involved. Rather than simply exploring the talent that exists out there and tempting them to the UK, the company recognises that skills and knowledge from the UK can be brought to their locality in order to push forward local healthcare practice. The NHS still enjoys a good status internationally so even learning about how an A&E department functions can be useful. In addition to this, however, the trips which Remedium facilitates have enabled specific UK health Trusts to build their own brands and put themselves forward as employers of choice. If the NHS has a high status among the international healthcare sector, the value to a Trust of getting in front of potential talent is to explain how and why their organisation is different and attractive for skilled workers. Highly skilled employees will therefore be more likely to take opportunities with that Trust rather than viewing the NHS as a single destination. “The NHS is a global brand and world renowned,” says Braham, “but with around 160 Actor Trusts you need to know why are you different from the others – that’s what we want the Trusts to think about. What makes them better and different and how do we show that to candidates? That way we can make make the Trust a global brand.”
Investing in recruiting talent
Creating this level of service for their clients has depended on Braham attracting and developing his staff as the company has grown. Emphasising qualities such as a partnership approach, empathy among his consultants Braham takes great care over who becomes part of the business and how they are looked after. He’s looking for people who will give the company 100 per cent and in return, he says, they’ll get 200 per cent – the resources and care for developing, rewarding and moving that individual on, not just in their career but in their own personal development as well. It is interesting to note that one of the final parts of the selection process for consultants at Remedium involves a social situation – lunch or dinner for example – where the individuals’ manner and behaviour is considered as much as their aptitude for recruitment. At the end of the day, says Braham, he wants to ensure his consultants understand how to behave in front of clients and that they will not surprise or put off the people they work with through inappropriate comments. Ultimately, Braham seems driven by a sense of morality, to do right by the health service he serves and to deliver a win for everyone involved. With an eye on expanding into health related professions and the private sector as well, the company will no doubt continue to rise in standing and profile within the health organisation it serves. At the same time that it expands, however – Braham is already lining up dedicated sales teams, a business development manager and so on – the business will continue to innovate, giving its front line staff the ability to spot potential partnerships and interventions which may help to address the talent gap in the sector in a positive way.