Bringing the Flexible Workforce Solutions through the Pandemic

21 Jun 2021 Anne Marie Fogarty

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Altin Biba, CEO & Founder of Flexible Staffing Solutions, ProMedical, talks with Suhail Mirza, Consultant and Report Author LaingBuisson, about business during the pandemic.


In this article, Altin discusses how the business has managed during the pandemic – the opportunities that have arisen, ensuring the safety of his team, continuity of service for his clients and healthcare professionals and the digitisation of his business. In addition, he discusses the changes to the market in the short and long-term, the challenges that service providers are facing and adaptation to the market conditions to ensure the service provided is fit-for-purpose and supports clients.

We set up the business back in 2007 – amid a recession, but our ambition and vision were clear from the start. We wanted to solve a national problem regarding staffing deficits in healthcare. But did not just want to set up a recruitment agency – we wanted to set up a more long-term solution, and as with all types of healthcare, one must always look for the root cause in order to solve the top layer issues.

We truly understand our customers in order to meet their needs, so we focused on what they want. We support healthcare workers across many disciplines, supporting acute, community and mental health services across the UK.

 How did ProMedical respond to the pandemic?

In the last 15 months, the focus shifted to Intensive Care, and elective procedures were pushed back and cancelled. But, again, the national concern was to keep everyone safe, and as Covid took up bed spaces and staff, less pressing surgeries and procedures took a back seat.

Being healthcare recruiters (flexible workforce solutions) and so closely aligned with the NHS, we were front seat from the start of lockdown. We had to make swift decisions, and for us, it was first and foremost to ensure our people were safe. Then we quickly needed to look at what we needed to do to ensure our customers and healthcare professionals were looked after?

Our focus was to take care of our people and make sure we continue quality service for our customers and that our services did not suffer. We achieved this by ensuring that the same infrastructure that allows for what we do is fit for purpose, so ensuring true digitalisation across the business, and ensuring an ability to work remotely across all different platforms, was in place.

The first wave really shook the market – as a business, we went from 7.1% surplus capacity in our elective care to a minus 81.3% of our elective care services closing their doors, so we needed to refocus and provide the services in areas that redirected care. We had to channel our energy to Covid related services, that was a challenge and change we had to manage fast.

It helped that we have an impressive alignment with our clients, a true ability to understand their pressure points, understanding their needs and how those needs deviated was necessary for us to provide the service that our valued clients needed.

We adapted and offered solutions that truly address a customer need -that is what sets us apart. Now, 15 months on, we are looking at a 3.5% surplus of the services re-opening, which is a real positive. Our challenge now shifts towards how to best support the recovery phase and the unprecedented waiting lists.

Waiting lists are very high and elective surgery care will have enormous demand for staffing solutions – What can ProMedical offer as a solution?

We need to look at the problem and then focus on identifying and applying the right solution. Whether your bank, agency or other organisation – we are all looking to address the problem that’s by default been created by the market. Customers have a real situation on their hands  – Pre Covid we had 130,000 vacancies and post covid we have a gap expected to be beyond that, that is a massive staff shortage.

  • We need to focus on the real problem: we have a low number of graduates, so we are failing to attract the right type of graduates. Those that do graduate often leave the profession – so we are failing to retain staff.
  • Then look at imposed pressure from international sources – allowing sufficient time for international healthcare workers to adjust and learn the UK system and not impose extra pressure on staff already at breaking point.
  • Increase in care and demand – we have a misaligned healthcare workforce capability in terms of staffing/numbers versus care. We are looking to improve that, and there are multiple solutions to this; we, as solution providers, must ensure our offerings are fit for purpose. Our offerings/service works in alignment to address the short and mid-term needs.

Solutions will address:

  • We must stop putting pressure on already pressured workforces
  • Work in partnership with solution providers, with service providers/agencies that are going to support you

The long-term solution is to understand what inspires someone to become a healthcare professional and how can we retain them.

We quickly realised these key areas of concern needed reform and so set out to do just that. Fourteen years later, we remain customer-centric, determined in our vision and supporting the NHS with our flexible workforce model.

Our commitment is in understanding our customer base, and we are as close to our people as possible to ensure our offering is fit for purpose and constantly innovating.

By fixing intake and retention, the wellbeing of our people, workloads, abuse etc.. all those present problems that stress the workforce, will be challenged.  Agencies and other suppliers will need to keep innovating our offerings to ensure our solutions are fit for purpose.

We seek to know what exactly the customer needs to solve a particular problem at a specific time. So, we ask, what is it you need from us to solve the problem? Then we innovate and ensure our offerings are fit for purpose to solve that problem.

What is your take on technology in the industry?

We welcome new innovative ideas into the industry; each innovation needs to ask:

  • How this benefits the healthcare worker’s wellbeing?
  • Does it provide what the customer needs?
  • Does it solve the causative issues?
  • Is it beneficial to the end user-the patient?

At ProMedical, we examine, understand, analyse:

  • what our customers need using our customer-centric approach
  • the wellbeing of our people and healthcare workers
  • the safety and quality we deploy to our patients.

Moving forward in flexible workforce solutions

We are excited and optimistic when we look ahead. Proud to be part of the journey in this industry.

To listen to CEO Altin Biba’s full interview, click on the link here


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