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Overcoming post-Brexit challenges: the implications on healthcare executive search

Foreign Secretary Boris Jonson came under fire again recently for reviving the controversial £350m figure which pro-Brexit campaigners believed could be clawed back from the EU and spent on the NHS. More recently, Theresa May seemingly put Brexit on ice until 2021. These developments encapsulate how more than one year on from the Brexit referendum, the UK’s political and economic landscape is still racked with uncertainty and mixed messaging.

For healthcare executive search candidates, the only thing that is clear is the current unpredictability of the job market. Many organisations for instance may be looking at moving operations abroad, away from London and to European cities with great potential for them, such as France and Germany. Yet in spite of the blurred picture of the future, there are several indications that the current climate is actually providing opportunities for healthcare executive search.

Talent is evergreen

When the UK leaves the EU, there’s no reason to assume that healthcare executive search needs will change. In fact, in the midst of an unpredictable few years, organisations will be best served working through a healthcare executive search to be sure they have hired impressive candidates who can help them navigate turbulent sectoral implications.


In spite of Brexit anxieties, the statistics are actually very good at present and in some cases even showing growth. Executive Grapevine’s 2016/17 UK Executive Search Rankings Report earlier this year found that the executive search market was up by 4.2% on a like-for-like basis against GDP growth for the same period of 2.0%. Helen Fish, CEO of Executive Grapevine, put this down to the ability of the executive search industry to easily adapt to an ever-changing marketplace.

Temporary solutions

Some organisations may not feel comfortable making long-term decisions in the UK’s current circumstances, and that an interim solution may be more prudent. There is perhaps an opportunity here for experienced healthcare professionals to step into short-term roles and help focus on the projects that are most important at present. Organisations may benefit from a healthcare executive search for temporary positions by not needing to invest too heavily while Brexit legislation and regulations are ironed out. High-calibre staff can equally benefit from a ‘trial’ period secured during which they can show their mettle, putting them in good stead for a more permanent position in future - whether with the same organisation or not - illustrating how they helped to steer them through uncertain times.

Two trends

Whatever may happen in the next few months, there’s no question that senior executives will still need skilled healthcare executives, and that these can best be found through a healthcare executive search. The IHS Markit/Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) Report on Jobs, published recently showed that Consumer, Media & Healthcare sectors had the second largest share of assignments for roles over £200k, accounting for 16.5% of all searches. (The largest was for Global Banking and Asset Management.) Demand for staff was seen to increase at its fastest rate since April 2015.

Kevin Green, the Chief Executive of REC said:

“Employers are increasingly turning to recruitment agencies as it becomes harder to find the people to fill the jobs available. There are two trends at play. Businesses are seeking more professional and managerial capability, so we’re seeing high demand for roles like financial directors, analysts, and compliance and HR professionals.”

Towards the end of last year, The King’s Fund identified five areas in which Brexit would impact on healthcare: staffing, access to treatment abroad, cross border cooperation, regulation, and funding and finance. The picture now has not changed much since then. Ultimately, healthcare executive search will continue to be strategically essential to clients in both the short and the long-term. It’s only through a trusted partnership that the right candidate with the right credentials is matched to a work environment that needs their particular skillset right now. From careers with the NHS to private healthcare, charities and research centres, Thewlis Graham executive search is committed to making that match.