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2020’s best recruitment strategy: NHS Blood and Transplant

In response to the COVID-19 Crisis, NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) was mandated by the government in March 2020 to collect convalescent plasma to support trialling a promising new treatment for patients suffering from COVID-19.

To manage this initiative, NHSBT’s people team was tasked with the immense task of recruiting nearly 400 new colleagues called ‘Antibody Angels’ during a window of just six weeks to support its new initiative of collecting and distributing plasma across England.

Such an initiative was new to NHSBT and demonstrates the immense support and initiative taken by NHSBT’s people and wider teams during this unprecedented time.

Prior to this initiative, NHSBT had only conducted most of its standard interviews on a face-to-face basis. Because of the nature of this groundbreaking initiative and the sheer number of candidates to interview, NHSBT’s recruitment team modified their process to digital by creating Zoom interviews.

Colleagues in the department were briefed and trained on how to conduct online interviews. NHSBT’s recruitment team arranged panel members for the virtual interviews as it was agreed that interviews would be conducted by representatives rather than individual managers being required to interview for their specific location.

Time was also a new important element NHSBT had to take into consideration. Prior to this initiative, NHSBT’s policies did not facilitate options to allow for recruitment at the pace required to support the collection of convalescent plasma. This changed with the increased requirement for external short-term colleagues.

NHSBT’s recruitment team agreed to three new sources for recruiting colleagues. The first was a government-backed recruitment scheme that allowed colleagues who had been leavers within the previous 48 months the opportunity to apply to collect plasma or support blood collection.

The second, was a team of NHS professionals, an arm’s length body within the NHS which runs a bank system of colleagues who can be recruited for roles within the NHS.

And the third was the furlough scheme, 40% of staff was ‘lent’ to NHSBT by a number of organisations. These colleagues were currently on furlough and included nurses from the pharmacy chain Superdrug as well as TUI and EasyJet.

The judges felt that the NHSBT’s recruitment strategy shone further light on the amazing work that the NHS has done during the pandemic. They said the strategy was clear and perfectly delivered.

All judges also agreed that the low cost of the strategy spoke volumes about how hard the team worked to make it happen. Huge congratulations to the NHSBT team!


North Yorkshire Police


Hertfordshire County Council

The Berkeley Partnership

Find the full list of the 2020 HR Excellence awards winners here. You can also watch the event on demand and register your interest in the 2021 event here.