The importance of PPE and testing for health and care staff was flagged by almost half (48%) of specialist recruiters as a major issue during the pandemic, with concerns that temporary staff are not being given the same access to PPE as permanent NHS workers.
This formed part of the REC’s four-point manifesto, Backing the NHS and care sector at a time of crisis, which has been laid out to help manage staffing shortages during the current pandemic.
It outlined how the government can work with the health and care recruitment sector during the pandemic and beyond.
The REC emphasised the need to maintain the standard of hiring processes but increase their speed to meet demand during the pandemic.
This could be done by drawing on the expertise of recruitment professionals to work out flexible staffing arrangements during the pandemic, the manifesto said.
Tom Hadley, director of policy and campaigns at the REC, said: “We want to work with the NHS and care sector to ensure that all workers, including temporary and locum staff who are providing crucial frontline support, are kept safe at work.
“Looking at the longer term, 70% of healthcare recruiters would welcome a post-crisis review of how flexible staffing can best be harnessed.”
The REC also recommended that health and care recruitment standards are set in formal partnership with the Department for Health & Social Care post-crisis.
Finally, the manifesto outlined how the government and recruitment sector could work together to plan for the health and care workforce in the long term, such as by reviewing the future NHS and care sector workforce strategy, and revisiting immigration policy in light of the crisis.
Hadley added: “The NHS already had 100,000 unfilled vacancies prior to the pandemic - we want to build a genuine partnership approach with government to pre-empt and address both immediate and future workforce challenges.
“The recruitment industry places more than one million people into temporary, contract and locum placements every day.
“We want to work with the government to harness this contribution of recruitment experts during this time of national emergency, and this manifesto sets out four priority areas that will help to make this happen.”