Transforming recruitment for the NHS

Acting as the NHS Business Services Authority’s strategic transformation partner to help people find meaningful careers within the NHS through the design of a new jobs platform.

NHS Business Services Authority
Design and change
Recruitment platform

About the project

The NHS is the world’s fifth largest employer and their existing Jobs service handles 4 million applications a year for more than 380,000 vacancies. However the recruitment experience was complex with job applicants and hiring managers finding the system difficult to navigate. 

The NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) wanted to buy a new job service to make sure the right people are in the right roles while providing an accessible and efficient recruitment process that’s as cost-efficient as possible. We joined as NHSBSA’s strategic transformation partner to define the challenges they needed to solve and help create the right solution.

Our process to execute this project

We worked in partnership with NHSBSA and their other supplier teams to design, build and deliver the service through discovery, alpha and private beta, passing each assessment.

Buying and customising a new platform would be too costly, so we decided to build from scratch. Designing the platform ourselves meant we could use open source technologies that are more cost-effective than off-the-shelf licensing models.


In a multidisciplinary team we ran workshops with project stakeholders to define the NHSBSA’s vision, goals, the different types of people using the platform and explored what we wanted the new service to look like. 

We then carried out user research to understand people’s needs, running interviews to hear first hand experiences. Hosting co-design workshops and usability tests of the existing service allowed us to finish this phase of the project with:

  • a findings report to inform prototypes
  • user personas of job applicants, hiring managers, HR and recruitment administrators
  • user journey maps
  • service blueprints for the existing service
  • a technical review of the existing service
  • a costed platform options appraisal
  • potential technical solutions

We then turned our focus to prototyping potential solutions based on the discovery and testing our most complex assumptions. In preparation for the private beta we enrolled 1000’s of GPs and NHS Trusts to use the platform for all their future hires. 

These solutions were turned into user stories and contained the 14 GDS service standards to make sure our work complied ahead of any assessments. During public beta, we also collected feedback from people using the new service and used this alongside web analytics to help us iterate based on any emerging needs.

Knowledge transfer

Throughout this project we helped NHSBSA develop their internal capabilities, by working alongside staff to transfer project knowledge and new skills. We did this by providing coaching and mentoring, hosting regular lunch and learns across design, user research and development disciplines and hosting training sessions on delivery techniques.

Responding to the challenges of the pandemic

During this project there were challenges around remote working for the NHS as well as the need for new additions to the service to respond to COVID efforts. The NHS needed to recruit a lot of people into front-line roles quickly, including doctors, nurses and staff to administer vaccines. Many people wanted to offer support during the crisis, with GPs coming out of retirement and trained staff who had moved careers looking to return. The NHS jobs platform needed a way to recruit these people quickly. 

We created a new feature for the service which categorised these roles clearly and allowed hiring managers to add listings for COVID-related jobs. Adding new questions to the create listing option allows employers to quickly and easily mark a role as one that would help with the COVID response. Prominent signposting was also added to the existing site, search and job detail pages to help people find these roles.


Throughout our partnership with the NHSBSA, we improved application quality and reduced the amount of time it takes to hire for new roles. We’ve improved the experience for hiring managers and candidates looking for jobs by allowing them to choose times and dates for interviews, improving the way hiring managers invite people for interviews and the way they can track progress. 

One of our successes was moving away from the old system, creating an in house solution to replace a third party API which works much better for the service. Through this we were able to maximise the NHSBSA’s return on investment and reduce total cost of ownership for the platform. 

The new service was built and designed using accessible code to support job seekers with access needs, including those using screen reading software. It also works for mobile and has an assisted digital solution for those who have difficulty using digital services.

This new service is now in public beta, and is being used by more than 6,500 GPs and trusts across the UK.

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