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Covid-19 Testing Programme

Company Background

In November 2020, Medacs Healthcare were awarded a Managed Service contract with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) to recruit and manage a workforce of thousands of health and scientific staff across the UK Test and Trace Laboratory network. Part of this contract entailed working directly with University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust to recruit a new workforce of scientists, lab staff and logistics workers for a new purpose-built Lighthouse Laboratory for COVID-19 testing.

The Challenge

Medacs were asked to recruit 250 staff within 2 months to run a brand new laboratory including lab technicians, scientists, logistics staff and support staff. Many of the roles demanded significant knowledge and skills and with other laboratory sites opening earlier, the available talent pool to source candidates from was limited. Retention would also be difficult to ensure in a sector with burgeoning scientific opportunities. Medacs needed to onboard staff rapidly to meet sharply rising need for testing during the pandemic and provide cover for a 24/7 operation with staff able to work weekdays, nights, weekends and bank holidays

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The Solution

An effective supply chain of over 15 suppliers, including scientific recruitment specialists, was rapidly built. Internal promotion was also actively encouraged with entry-level Laboratory Technicians quickly upskilled into more senior roles.

Medacs worked closely with the Trust, the local University, and the Department of Work and Pensions to source long term unemployed jobseekers and students from the local community for lower skilled roles.

Collaborative working was critical to success. The Medacs team met daily with operational leads to define roles, review service requirements and manage the workforce, coordinating payroll and leave and supporting with HR issues, including retention planning. A specific authorisation process was introduced for timesheets to ensure a smooth payroll process.

The entire process was underpinned with detailed reports and pipeline tracking and monthly management information for NHSI returns.

The Result

  • 100% fill rate, despite receiving less than two weeks notice for changing requirements due to new variants

  • 250 FTE candidates recruited for a variety of roles from Band 2 to senior scientists (337 total)

  • First intake of 60 lab technicians delivered within 10 days, with all compliance and inductions completed

  • Successfully delivered sufficient staffing capacity to meet uplifted target of 55,000 tests per day

  • Delivered social value by placing job seekers and long term unemployed into roles

Our experience working with Medacs has been extremely positive and they have been an important and valued partner. We were immediately impressed with their professionalism, knowledge and enthusiasm. All our targets were met and most of the staff recruited were of extremely high calibre 

Mark Lavery MIDSc Chtd, General Manager Plymouth Lighthouse Laboratory

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