Umbrella Company techies and other IT professionals with commercial backgrounds are refraining from seeking NHS roles because they wrongly believe there is no demand for their skills there, a new study by NHS IT recruitment specialist max20 and Computerworld UK reveals.

200 IT professionals from within and outside the NHS were surveyed for the research. Of the NHS insiders, almost three quarters (72%) positively welcome new IT recruits coming from commercial backgrounds; however, 59% of NHS outsiders believe they would be passed over without consideration for NHS roles.

The finding comes at an especially fraught moment, as major reforms to the NHS – notably the abolition of PCTs and their replacement by CSUs and CCGs – have generated unprecedentedly huge demand for IT professionals with commercial skills.

Don Tomlinson, max20’s MD, said: “The fact that NHS experience is often no longer a prerequisite to working in the organisation for many IM&T roles has not permeated the IT community. The message needs to be communicated. The IT communities within and outside the NHS still need to learn more about each other. There is a lack of communication and direct experience and so clichés and inaccurate views still persist.”

The director of a major health informatics company, John Rayner, told Computerworld UK that the NHS was still inclined to adopt a closed attitude toward employing IT pros from non-NHS backgrounds. In his years of experience contracting in the NHS IT industry, he said, he had found healthcare providers and hospitals to be very complacent about running their organisations like businesses – a mind-set he believes will be made profoundly obsolete by the new reforms.

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