NRO speeds ‘fitness to practice’ compliance

Doctors abandon bad handwriting for business critical service

The National Recruitment Office (NRO)for General Practice Training in the NHS, has turned to an online business critical recruitment administration resource to ensure that mandatory "fitness to practice" compliance directives are met more rapidly when evaluating candidates to train as GPs.

Previously, the existing paper based system—used for evaluating the educational, experience and competency levels of candidates, against pre-defined compliance criteria—had proved time consuming and labour intensive.

With approximately 2000 places available, NRO received more than 12000 applications for the 2005 intake, compared to a typical annual average of around 8000. A greater number of applications from abroad was one of the reasons for the increase.  The prognosis for the allocation of internal resources was clearly acute.

“We’ve been able to introduce several key steps in the process to enable a standardised and measurable recruitment cycle but the process was still paper based,” explains Gai Evans, National GP Recruitment Manager at the NRO. “Normally when we reach the deadline for applications, each of the 16 local deaneries to which candidates apply, would end up with a room full of mail sacks that needed to be sorted manually. With this year’s unusually high volumes, it would have been a daunting task.”

Amidst concerns that targets might not be met, the decision was made to fundamentally improve underlying working practises by switching to an online recruitment platform in October 2005; just three months before applications would commence for the next intake in February 2006. NRO’s situation had been exacerbated by frequent over subscriptions, as GP candidates were applying to more than one regional deanery to maximise their chances of selection.

NRO conceded that it needed outside help and employed the sevices of online recruitment administration consultants Konetic who had a  track record of setting up rapid response recruitment administration systems, where candidate details and application are managed entirely online. The first priority Konetic faced was to eliminate duplication and to ensure that the right data was being captured and therein allow recruitment teams to assess candidates in terms of experience, qualifications and fitness to practice through mandatory background checks.

“Application forms for entering General Practice involve rigorous eligibility and mandatory medico-legal questions,” explains said Adam Wright, Director of Client Services at Konetic. “These cannot be rushed but the data volumes are seasonally peaked and the timescales were immensely tight. However, by using a proven, online volume approach, these problems have been completely dissipated.”

Applications for the August 2006 GP training programme intakes were officially closed at midnight 24th of February 2006 three weeks after they were opened.  Evans adds; “Considering the timescales involved, we were delighted and relieved that everything went to plan, was within budget and on time. There is little doubt that managing these numbers electronically has allowed deaneries to ensure that each application was dealt with properly and in a timely manner. Getting rid of the paper, meant no more struggling with the handwriting of potential GPs, which traditionally of course is not something that prospective GPs were ever evaluated upon!”

Read more on IT jobs and recruitment