Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust
At the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, 10,000 staff deliver care to more than 1.6 million patients each year across three main hospitals. The Royal Free is a recognised leader in UK healthcare across a number of areas, including immunology, transplants and cancer treatment and a leading trust for the training of doctors, nurses, midwives and professions allied to medicine.
The Royal Free places great focus on meeting or exceeding all regulatory compliance outcomes. This extends to their Corporate Shared Services team which pulls together a number of back-office support functions to drive efficiencies and ensure compliance across the trust. The Shared Services team includes HR support and underpins the recruitment of around 3000 staff each year. This team needed a compliant, efficient process to ensure the robust recruitment of staff in line with NHS Employment Check Standards.
For many years, the Royal Free have been using TrustID identity verification services, with ID Scanners connected to laptops in their primary recruitment locations and App-based remote checking options for in-field recruitment. The technology provided a vital counter fraud check allowing them to assess the authenticity of global identity documents presented by candidates to the trust and protecting them against illegal working.
However, in 2020, as the trust saw an increase in remote recruitment driven by Covid-19 restrictions, they approached TrustID again to discuss options to widen their compliant recruitment processes. This led the trust to introduce TrustID Cloud, a pay-per-check online verification service which allows them to check identity documents remotely.
In 2019, the Royal Free Shared Recruitment Services team had started to invest in new technology in the form of robotic process automation to support the finance and HR teams with some of their critical administrative tasks. Following the roll-out of TrustID Cloud, the trust turned to the robot, affectionately name STU (Speeds Things Up), to support automated administrative processing, streamline processes and build an integration between systems.
Royal Free advertise and manage the application process for vacant roles through the trac online recruitment system. Every day, the robot checks which candidates have received an offer and sends the offer letter. It also activates pre-employment checks and issues an automated invitation for that candidate to begin the identity check process by uploading the three relevant identity and right to work documents to TrustID Cloud. The invitation is made up of a personalised email containing a TrustID Guest Link – a one-time access link – for candidates to upload their identity documents into the online identity service for verification, using their smartphone or tablet device.
The service also asks the candidate to capture a selfie which is compared to the photo on an identity document (e.g. a passport) and run through a passive liveness detection test. This verification process ensures that the selfie was taken by a live person and the candidate is the same person as the document holder. Verification results are returned to Royal Free’s TrustID account which the robot regularly searches and then downloads any new result .pdf reports before adding them into a shared drive and uploading to trac online recruitment system.
“Thanks to the robot, we now have a straightforward process that takes us from offering a job on trac to completing the necessary ID checks, no matter whether we’re recruiting a few or hundreds of candidates that week” Sylwia Misko, Shared Recruitment & Service Development Manager at Royal Free explains “It’s given us an easy but secure way to obtain identity documents remotely. With TrustID’s validity checks in place, we protect ourselves from fraudulent documentation.”
The Shared Recruitment Services team visually check the validation results and ensure that the candidate meets the right to work requirements before completing the ID check on candidate’s application on trac. For compliance purposes, when a candidate arrives for the first day at work, local Hiring Managers are also required to cross-check the candidate’s recorded information with the original document. “This human element gives us an additional safety net to triple-check that the candidate is who we think they are” explains Sylwia.
The Royal Free has worked hard to communicate their processes to candidates, from highlighting their use of identity checks in every job advert to fine-tuning the contents of the Guest Link emails to ensure that candidates upload the right documents. The Shared Recruitment Services team now use the Guest Link service to capture the 3 documents required for a full ID check, including both photographic ID and proof of address documents, in line with the NHS Employment Check standards.
If a candidate hasn’t completed their application within a week, the robot is also set to remind them via email and text message.
“It’s been an ongoing process, working with TrustID and our wider internal team to get our processes and the communications with our candidates right,” says Sylwia “but it’s paid off with an average of 71% of candidates now completing the full process in one step.”
The integrated identity checks have significantly improved the time it now takes to complete the recruitment and onboarding process at the Royal Free. “In September 2020, during Covid-19 altered ways of working and before we did the integration work, it would take us an average of 13 working days to complete an ID check for a candidate” Sylwia says “By March 2021, we had reduced that to 6 working days, so we’ve saved more than a working week on average for each new starter.”
As the service is available 7-days a week, candidates can choose when they upload their documents, from wherever and whenever it suits them, meaning that no longer need to take time off or travel into the Royal Free sites to complete their application.
Royal Free recently conducted a satisfaction survey for candidates who completed the ID check virtually. The results showed that 96.7% of surveyed candidates found ID check instructions clear to follow, 93.3% stated that the online ID check process was easy to complete and 76.6% preferred completing the ID check virtually as opposed to in person.
TrustID cloud-based identity verification gives the Royal Free trust a robust, centralised ID and right to work pre-employment check which can support remote recruitment across their sites and scale as new customers are brought under the remit of the shared service team. As the technology is accessible from anywhere, thanks to the Guest Links feature, candidates can upload identity documents at a time to suit them and the trust can reduce the time taken to hire new recruits in order to support the vital patient care.
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