Market Update Q1 - Life Sciences & Private Healthcare

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By :
Natalie Drew

How Covid has impacted the life sciences & private healthcare markets

The global pandemic has caused huge challenges and major changes, impacting staffing and hiring in many ways.

  • Elective surgeries were put on hold to prioritise Covid-19 patients, leading to a decline in non-essential surgeries and, consequently, global hiring freezes across many therapy areas. 
  • The outsourcing of private hospitals to the NHS led to recruitment freezes for our private hospital clients. 
  • Critical projects were put on hold or cancelled in order to conserve budgets. 
  • Restructuring through consolidation of divisions meant redundancies across middle management and heads of department.

Many of our life sciences clients reacted quickly, evolving their business model, processes and operations to fit with the ‘new normal’, creating a huge shift in their talent needs. 

The commercial rollercoaster! Digital sales boom, traditional strategies dive

The remote working revolution has accelerated the inevitable decline of the face-to-face sales model. During Q1 2021, we’ve been inundated with requests for skilled digital marketers. Organisations that relied on traditional face-to-face meetings and hands on demonstrations in surgeries have completely re-engineers their sales strategies. 

Whilst some companies embraced digital routes to market years ago, driving sales digitally is now a necessity. Businesses need to focus on marketing technology, optimising their website, converting sales online as well as creating targeted campaigns. This move to an ecommerce strategy has increased demand for:

  • Heads of Digital
  • Digital Marketing Managers
  • Marketing Directors
  • Digital Executives

Demand for communications roles – internal and external – has also risen as companies seek to increase brand awareness through PR and storytelling and ensure remote workforces remain connected and engaged.

The challenges and risks for people in ‘at-risk’ categories

Groups with underlying health conditions have been more susceptible to serious illness throughout the pandemic. But, these are also the people who need to leave home for regular visits to hospitals and clinics for treatment.
For diabetes patients, unregulated blood sugar levels are always dangerous. With mounting evidence that people with diabetes are at higher risk of serious illness with Covid-19, the need to manage their condition effectively is critical. Restricted access to hospitals has meant that newly diagnosed patients, or those in the middle of changing solution providers, are less likely to receive their ‘pump start’, typically delivered by a diabetes nurse. As a result, a backlog has developed.

The reaction from progressive providers has been to restructure and change the way they do business, with the introduction of ‘virtual’ pump starts. The result is an increase in demand for a hybrid of clinical and commercial expertise and a steady flow of diabetes nurses moving into industry to tackle patient support and clinical training.

Shortages in specialist clinical expertise

Nurses and clinical staff within the NHS have experienced immense pressure, increasing workloads and overwhelming exhaustion caused by the year-long pandemic. Yet, they are reluctant to leave colleagues and patients.
Specialist clinics, reliant on niche talent to operate efficiently and deliver quality care, have felt the effects. Many of these services, such as cancer units, are seeing an increase in patients referred for critical illness. A reluctance to seek advice from a GP or hospital during the pandemic has sadly meant that, when patients are finally seen, the disease is further progressed – stage 4 rather than 1 or 2.

"Macmillan estimates that across the UK there are currently around 50,000 ‘missing diagnoses’ – meaning that compared to a similar time frame last year, 50,000 fewer people have been diagnosed with cancer." (August 2020 findings).

Has Brexit impacted the UK life sciences jobs market?

New EU regulations post-Brexit have finally been agreed after a slow and shaky start to the year, but have created significant challenges. Organisations with head quarters and manufacturing sites in Europe and offices in the UK now need to adopt a whole new system for importing products.

Together with International travel restrictions caused by the pandemic, Brexit has had a negative affect on UK firms’ ability to hire talent from abroad. The UK’s new points-based system is causing severe onboarding delays for overseas talent. UK companies are taking a cautious approach and prioritising UK candidates to avoid these issues. However, this is also restricting the talent pool, limiting access to skilled people in Europe.

A catalyst for change

No one could have predicted the sheer scale of challenges that private healthcare and life sciences companies would face in the last 12 months. The pandemic has been a catalyst for huge changes across all facets of the organisation, positive and negative. Nimble, agile businesses with the ability to quickly adapt to ever-changing circumstances are setting the standard. Talent markets have shifted beyond recognition, with flexibility, remote working and employee wellbeing key to talent attraction.

The fallout is likely to be long lasting. With so much uncertainty, businesses are evolving rapidly to respond to today’s needs, without an accurate picture of what the future looks like to plan effectively for tomorrows. 

To discuss your hiring needs within the Life Sciences or Private Healthcare markets, contact Divisional Manager, Natalie Drew


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