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For-profit operators moving into training is long overdue

Recent exclusive HBI reports about pan-European care home operators Orpea and Korian ramping up training of medical workers globally are welcome news. But such moves by the wider for-profit sector are long overdue.

Korian plans to double the number of nurses trained while competitor Orpea tells HBI it will open medical schools across the world. The global medical workforce shortage is a particular blight on the nursing home and care sectors.  But there is a moral argument that for-profit operators, on the whole, should have been doing this all along rather than pinching staff from the public sector or other, usually poorer countries.

The argument runs like this: That your business model might be serving premium-paying customers who don’t want to be around spotty medical students is no excuse. Nor is the tenuous argument that the for-profit model of having doctors stick to one thing and do it very well is on-the-job training equivalent to full-time training or placements.

If you aren’t providing training or placements commensurate with the size of your organisation, you are contributing to the workforce shortage. Global recruitment expert Kate Tulenko says if a company’s business model means it can’t take students on placements, it should pay money back into the country’s medical education system.

That argument sometimes extends to doctors themselves, too. The idea of specialists paying back their training costs if they leave the public sector to go private is regularly raised in the UK and elsewhere, but the logical follow-on is to ask the same of those who leave the profession entirely because of, say, burnout; a much more difficult ethical question.

There are definite exceptions: for-profit hospital groups in Germany, Spain, Turkey, Italy and India run university hospitals and so have been intimately involved in training national workforces for years. On the non-clinical side, most of Germany’s hospital managers are trained in the for-profit sector, says sector expert Boris Augurzky.

We’d hope other for-profit operators follow in the footsteps of these groups and Orpea and Korian and bring training into their business model. If not, this may be forced on them by simple necessity of recruitment challenges, or through legislative moves by regulators.

We would welcome your thoughts on this story. Email your views to Cameron Murray or call 0207 183 3779.