Healthcare staff shortages bite hard as summer looms

Iosif Karambotis (S), chairman of the Social Board, is surprised that the shortage of substitute personnel is most significant within the city of Skellefteå.
Iosif Karambotis (S), chairman of the Social Board, is surprised that the shortage of substitute personnel is most significant within the city of Skellefteå.

The holidays for healthcare and social care workers in Skellefteå municipality are just around the corner, but replacements are still being sought. In an effort to address the staffing shortage, staff members are now being offered up to 30,000 kronor to reschedule their vacations outside of the summer months.

Skellefteå 8 juni 2023 10:12

– This year's situation is truly unique and is a direct result of the current staff shortage, explains Linda Dehlin, director of healthcare and social care in Skellefteå.

– In previous years, we rarely had any vacant positions before the summer planning, allowing half of our regular staff to remain on-site during the summer. However, this year, we are experiencing a significant shortage of staff even before the summer begins. As a result, the need for recruitment is substantially higher, while the number of applicants has significantly decreased. We have never encountered a situation like the one we are facing now, she explains.

To address this crisis, several measures have been implemented. Offering summer allowances to staff members willing to reschedule their vacations or fill in during leave has yielded positive results, according to Iosif Karambotis (S), chairman of the social committee.

–  In April, we had 260 positions that needed to be filled, which decreased to 120 in May. As we approach the holidays starting in mid-June, we will have a more accurate number. It is anticipated that around 50 positions can be filled through staffing companies, he adds.

Iosif Karambotis (S), chairman of the Social Board, is surprised that the shortage of substitute personnel is most significant within the city of Skellefteå.

– We have faced the most challenges in filling positions here in the city, which is contrary to the usual pattern. The most critical situation is at Morö Backe, explains Karambotis.

Approximately 26 million kronor has been allocated to compensate for the existing staff. If needed, an additional 6 million kronor can be utilized to engage services from staffing agencies.

Staff members who are willing to reschedule their vacations are being offered compensation of up to 30,000 kronor. Temporary staff working during the summer can receive a bonus of 10,000 kronor. This offer mirrors the packages that have been in effect in previous years. Both Dehlin and Karambotis confirm that several individuals have accepted the offer, resulting in the majority of departments being adequately staffed.

Other efforts to address the staffing shortage have included restructuring work assignments and establishing new professional categories.

– The managers are making every effort to distribute the expertise effectively, ensuring that we have regular staff members in all units and shifts who can serve as quality leaders for all substitutes and newcomers. There will be a strong focus on individual needs and what is most important for each person, says Dehlin.

Linda Dehlin says that the summer in healthcare will require a lot of cooperation from the staff.

How will the healthcare system maintain the same level of quality during the summer?

– We need to make the most of the available expertise. Everyone with a background in healthcare should be involved in direct patient care, while those without such experience can assist with other tasks such as cleaning, laundry, shopping, or meal preparation. There will be more staff members in different roles performing various duties, explains Dehlin.

Staff members from administrative departments, such as the management team and organizational development, can be brought in as needed to ensure tasks are completed.

– Those with healthcare education and experience can directly contribute to patient care. Others can provide support through double staffing or handle tasks like cleaning and laundry. It is important for us in administrative roles, who may be more distant from the frontline, to be actively involved in the core operations. This allows us to understand and learn about the services we oversee, says Dehlin.

In case of emergencies, in addition to hiring temporary nurses, maintaining constant communication, fostering close collaboration, and keeping the focus on the patients is crucial.

– The people we serve are the top priority. We are fully aware that the healthcare and social care departments are facing challenging and demanding circumstances. We address these issues daily at all levels. Our goal is to create the necessary conditions for providing safe and reliable care, emphasizes Dehlin.

How much?

26 million kronor is being allocated to incentivize staff members to reschedule their vacations.

An additional 6 million kronor can be used for staffing agency services.

Those who reschedule two weeks of their vacation will receive compensation of 15,000 kronor. For those who take their entire vacation outside the summer months, a compensation of 30,000 kronor will be provided.

Temporary staff hired between weeks 25-32, working at least 80% of the time, will receive a bonus of 10,000 kronor.

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