When the General Medical Council decided to relocate work outside London, a number of key requirements dominated the decision on a new location; among them cost reductions, convenient location and good transport links.
After extensive research Manchester was chosen as the new base for a large part of GMC’s work and since 2002 a process of relocation and recruitment has seen the GMC move approximately 70% of its work from London to Manchester.
One of the key factors that attracted GMC to Manchester was geographical location. It was important that the new headquarters were easily accessible for those that may need to attend hearings. From assessing the percentage of the UK population that was in a one or two hour travelling distance, it was clear that Manchester’s proximity to a number of cities as well as its excellent travel links meant that most people could easily travel to the new GMC office.
“Because people have to travel to us, it was useful to have a location that was so accessible to so many people.” says Andrew Bratt, Head of HR at the GMC who spearheaded the company’s Manchester recruitment drive. “We looked at other locations, but decided that if we were going to move, we needed to move to a location that could deliver the benefits we wanted to achieve, in a recruitment market that could provide the staff we needed. We also wanted to ensure we had good links to London – so Manchester’s travel links were important to us.”
A prime driver in the decision to move work from London to Manchester was the opportunity to reduce costs; both on staffing and office space. The ease of finding good office accommodation was also crucial. The GMC has also undertaken a major programme of modernisation and organisational change – carrying this out alongside a major relocation programme has worked well.
The GMC’s relocation process began in 2002 with the majority of staffing needs met through local recruitment. From an initial staff of forty in 2002, the GMC now employs over 200 people at its Manchester office.
“Recruiting over 200 people from the local area in a relatively short space of time was not as difficult as originally thought,” says Andrew. “We have done well with our recruitment campaign despite the fact the UK jobs market generally is becoming more competitive.”
GMC HR staff were particularly impressed with the standard of graduates coming from the number of large universities in Manchester, with many graduates staying to work in Manchester after completing their studies – and the GMC launched a graduate recruitment program in 2006 to take advantage of this.
In terms of workforce development, the GMC has also found Manchester to have a good network of training providers and has received support to locate appropriate training initiatives and courses. The organisation has already linked up with training providers such as Manchester Business School.
For the London employees from both senior and junior roles that chose to relocate to Manchester, many have been pleasantly surprised by the improved quality of life, shortened commuting times and cost – as well as the accessibility of the countryside and the arts and entertainment facilities in Manchester such as The Lowry and Manchester Art Gallery.
The vibrant jobs market also provides plenty of career opportunities for individuals. “The relocation process wasn’t as difficult as we thought it would be,” explains Andrew. ” We researched thoroughly and knew Manchester could offer everything we required. Office accommodation was easy to find, everything ran to schedule, we were up and running pretty quickly and maintained business continuity. The benefits of moving clearly outweigh the drawbacks and in terms of cost, the savings appeared very quickly.”
“Manchester definitely feels like it’s on the up. There is a real momentum about the place and, as an employer, we are happy to be part of this.”
Source: The General Medical Council