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Effective GP commissioning. Part 1: Recruitment

The first instalment of our three-part serialisation of Dr Sunil Gupta's new book Effective GP Commissioning looks at the importance of recruiting the right staff

The first instalment of our three-part serialisation of Dr Sunil Gupta's new book Effective GP Commissioning looks at the importance of recruiting the right staff

As GPs take on greater commissioning responsibility they will have to recruit new members of staff, either to cover their work with consortia or to take on new management roles. This article provides a step-by-step guide to effective recruitment.

Defining the role

Job analysis

Before recruiting for a position, it is important to invest time in gathering information about the nature of the job. This means thinking not only about the content of the job, but also the job's purpose, the outputs required by the job holder and how it fits into the organisation's structure. This analysis should form the basis of a job description and person specification.

Job description

The job analysis leads to writing a job description. This explains the job to candidates and helps the recruitment process by providing a clear guide to all involved about requirements. It can also be used to communicate expectations about performance to employees and managers to help ensure effective performance in the job.

Person specification

A person specification or job profile states the necessary and desirable criteria for selection. Increasingly, such specifications are based on a set of competencies identified as necessary for the performance of the job.

Managing the application and selection process

There are two main formats in which applications are likely to be received: the CV or the application form. These could be submitted either on paper or electronically.


The advantage of CVs is that they give candidates the opportunity to sell themselves in their own way and do not restrict the fitting of information into boxes, which often happens on application forms. However, CVs make it possible for candidates to include lots of additional, irrelevant material, which may make them harder to assess consistently.

Application forms

Application forms allow for information to be presented in a consistent format, making it easier to collect information from job applicants in a systematic way and assess objectively the candidate's suitability for the job. They should be appropriate to the level of the job.

Application form design and language is also important – a poorly designed application form can mean applications from some good candidates are overlooked or that candidates are put off applying.

Dealing with applications

All applications should be treated confidentially and circulated only to those individuals involved in the recruitment process. All responses to advertisements should also be acknowledged, as should all unsolicited applications, where possible. Prompt acknowledgement is good practice and presents a positive image of your practice or consortium.

Selecting candidates

Selecting candidates involves two main processes: shortlisting and assessing applicants to decide who should be offered a job. Selection decisions should be made after using a range of tools appropriate to the time and resources available – one example might be a psychometric test. Take care to use techniques thar are relevant to the job and the business objectives of the organisation. All tools used should be validated and constantly reviewed to ensure their fairness and reliability.

Making the appointment


A recruitment policy should state clearly how references will be used, at what point in the recruitment process they will be taken up and what kind of references will be necessary (for example, from former employers). These rules should be applied consistently. Candidates should always be informed of the procedure for taking up references. References are most frequently sought after the applicant has been given a provisional offer.

Employment offer

Offers of employment should always be made in writing. But it is important to be aware that a verbal offer of employment made in an interview is as legally binding as a letter to the candidate.

Employers must also be aware of the legal requirements regarding what information should be given in the written statement of particulars of employment.

Joining the organisation

Well-planned induction enables new employees to become fully operational quickly and should be integrated into the recruitment process.


The recruitment process should be documented accurately and access limited to those involved in recruitment. It is good practice to monitor applications and decisions to ensure you are offering equality of opportunity. Information should be kept for sufficient time to allow for any complaints to be handled. Unsuccessful candidates should be notified promptly in writing and if possible given feedback. As a minimum, feedback on any psychometric test results should be given.

Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development viewpoint

Recruiters also need to be fully aware of equal-opportunities legislation and understand how discrimination can occur both directly and indirectly in the recruitment process.[1]


Successful recruitment depends upon finding people with the right skills, expertise and qualifications to deliver organisational objectives and the ability to make a positive contribution to the values and aims of the organisation.

Dr Sunil Gupta is a GP in Benfleet, Essex, chair of the Professional Executive Committee of NHS South East Essex, and joint clinical director of Castle Point GP Consortium.

Dr Gupta is author of Effective GP Commissioning, a practical guide designed to provide GPs with essential knowledge, skills and attitudes to succeed as commissioners. Chapters include Assessing local health needs, Budgets and Patient safety. It is published by Radcliffe Publishing and costs £21.99. ISBN 978-1-84619-520-4

Recruiting staff