Recruiters provide a vital lifeline to the NHS at Christmas

22 Dec 2017


Imagine if recruiters didn’t supply the NHS with staff… Imagine if there weren’t enough doctors and nurses to look after the extra patients admitted to hospital over the Christmas break… We put together an animation to show what could happen if that was the case. But while this is a tongue-in-cheek clip there is a serious message behind it – recruiters provide a vital lifeline to the NHS.

Demand for NHS services and social care always increases over the winter period, as more people are admitted to hospital, substantive staff take holidays, and sickness rates go up. It’s at this time of year that the health and care service really relies upon the vital lifeline provided by agency staff to deliver safe care to patients.

Vital role of agency staff

Agency doctors and nurses help to support the NHS by filling rota gaps that would otherwise be left empty. This is a problem all year round (not just at Christmas) as there is a current shortage of over 40,000 nurses and well over 5,000 doctors in the NHS. What’s more, the problem is not going away. It is estimated  that there will be 51 per cent more people aged 65 and over in England in 2030 compared to 2010. Together with the shortage of staff, and the prediction  that one in three nurses will retire in the next decade, the need to value and support agency staff could not be greater.

Recognising value and working together

The REC has a close partnership with the Royal College of Nursing and we have worked together in 2017 to promote and support agency nurses. Together we have developed a toolkit for agency staff; the Healthy Workplace Toolkit for an Agency Workforce which is a practical guide and check list that can be used by agencies and employers, to ensure that agency staff are properly supported in the workplace.

The way forward

If government is committed to delivering a true 7 days a week, 365 days a year NHS, then it is going to have to work with agencies. Of course, costs must be controlled, and the REC will continue to work with NHS Improvement to develop flexible staffing models that work for all parties, that ultimately deliver the best outcomes for patients.

As you’re sitting down to lunch on Christmas Day, spare a thought for the thousands of agency doctors and nurses, as well as the recruiters who will help to keep the NHS going this Christmas.

Jobs transform Christmas so please share our clip.

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