In the context of growing concerns about a staffing crisis in NHS A&E departments, the REC has called for the public sector in general to make better use of flexible workers.

Prompted by recent widely publicised remarks by NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar that the A&E service is heading “closer and closer to the cliff edge”, the REC’s senior policy advisor, Chris Wilford, underlines the fact that the problem is not confined to this one service. The NHS, he says, “is just one of many parts of the public sector struggling to cope with increasing levels of demand and ever decreasing budgets.”

Mr Wilford called for urgent action to deal with the problem. The delivery of efficient public services, he argued, depends upon sustainable and safe staffing levels. If public services are to manage the fluctuating demands placed upon them, whether in an A&E department on a Friday night or over a multi-year MoD project to commission new warships, they will, he said, “need to have the ability to source the right staff as and when they are needed. In order for this to happen, the public sector must be more innovative in the way it uses its flexible, contingent workforce.”

Mr Wilford drew attention to a forthcoming event organised by the REC: Talent management in difficult times. The focus will be on how public sector hirers can improve the performance of public services by using private sector recruitment intermediaries to source qualified, flexible staff.

An implication of Mr Wilford’s proposals is that public sector employers may begin turning more boldly to skilled Umbrella Company Employees to help avert staffing shortfalls in the future.

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