The first few months of 2017 are set to define the rest of the year for the NHS job market. Rob Parker gives us his view on what the market looks like at the moment and what the future holds.

The combination of the introduction of the NHS Improvement agency caps and the impending changes to the IR35 regulations has created some challenges. The agency caps are making it more difficult for recruiters to source candidates who now charge a higher rate in order to cover the cost of the new IR35 regulations. This, coupled with the lack of clarity surrounding IR35, has led to an indecisive market.

Because of this, some organisations are trying to implement a blanket approach; pushing every contractor inside IR35. Although understandable, as the safe option, this is pushing candidates away from public sector work. This is especially true in the NHS, due to its tighter restrictions.

This may all sound like doom and gloom, but I believe there are positives to be taken from these challenges. Firstly, with a smaller pool of candidates for each role, the need for genuine specialist recruiters with trusted networks is greater than ever. Recruiters, who genuinely find the best candidate for a role, rather than just filling a position as soon as possible, will stand out more than ever.

Secondly, this is an opportunity for fresh interims to break into roles that have been dominated by an established pool. A significant chunk of those existing interims have now moved to permanent positions and some have retired.

Finally, the people who work in healthcare are passionate about the service they give. There will always be a candidate pool that want to work in the NHS, in spite of these challenges. It is our job, as recruiters, to continue to source these candidates and help establish a new pool to draw from.

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