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Minister for Care calls for ‘constructive partnership’ with recruitment agencies

Matt Hancock Helen Whately

The Minister for Care has penned a letter to recruitment agencies, calling for a “constructive partnership” with the UK’s health and care services during the coronavirus pandemic.

Helen Whately noted that while rise in demand would usually result in a rise in prices for staff, the government is encouraging trusts to work in a “collegiate way” so as not to create excessive competition or negatively impact the ability of the system to maintain safe staffing levels.

She said the government hopes recruitment agencies will corporate in making this possible by working in partnership with NHS and social care providers at local levels.

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The Minister also encouraged agencies to be mindful of their responsibility to pay statutory sick pay to workers who are ill or self-isolating.

Whately said: “As you will appreciate, the spread of Covid-19 presents serious challenges for the NHS and social care and, by extension, for staff and patients. The health and social care workforce, including those who choose to work through recruitment agencies, are our most important asset, and it’s vital that trusts are able to find staff as and when they are needed to maintain the quality of care for patients at this time.

“We recognise that this increased demand will likely mean an increase in the use of agencies, and we trust that you will work with the NHS and social care providers, in the public interest, to ensure that staff are placed efficiently, are fully compliant, and are proportionately remunerated for the time they are willing to give to the NHS and social care during this period of public need.”

The Minister said it is “vitally important” that recruitment agency workers are aware of coronavirus guidance for NHS and social care staff and that health and social care professionals are not place in a setting where they might present a risk to clients, patients or other members of staff.

Responding to the letter, Lee Biggins, founder and CEO of CV-Library, said: “These are truly challenging times and the health and social care industry is feeling the effects. Fortunately, the UK recruitment industry can be a part of the solution by helping the NHS to recruit the front line staff our country desperately needs right now.

“The letter sent out by the Care Minister earlier this week highlights some key concerns, whilst also outlining how agencies can do their due diligence. So long as recruiters follow this guidance, our industry can continue to support and help to ensure high quality patient care during this period of uncertainty.”

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Sarah Clarke

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