PAYE umbrella contractors specialising in healthcare might well be the beneficiaries of a looming staffing crisis in the NHS, provided NHS managers heed the advice of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC).

A report from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) warns that a combination of factors –workers retiring, cuts to training budgets and reduced overseas recruitment – was making a serious staffing shortfall increasingly likely.  At worst, the nursing workforce could fall by 28 per cent (99,000) over the coming ten years.  However, the REC is urging NHS managers to consider the benefits of flexible working options to compensate for the personnel losses.

Ed McRandal, the Healthcare advisor to the REC, said that patient care should remain the first priority of the NHS and staff shortages should not be permitted to compromise this.  He noted that shortages in out of hours doctors and midwives had already adversely affected patient care.  The Government, he insisted, “must ensure that these pressures do not spread to the nursing service.”

McRandal urged hospital trusts to take a leaf out of the private sector’s book and turn to flexible staffing solutions.  Temporary (locum) staff can bring “huge value” to the NHS, he added.  “[T]hey are highly trained professionals who can step in to deliver vital services,” he explained, adding, “We have seen cases across the UK of patient care suffering as a result of understaffing in hospitals – we must ensure that such instances do not recur.  Locum healthcare professionals who have been sourced from a recruitment agency… are vetted professionals who are only engaged as and when the needs of patients require.”

Umbrella companies supplying such professionals might find themselves receiving calls from the NHS very shortly.

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