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Recrutiment & Employment Confederation

Health and social care

Bringing together recruiters with a common interest to lobby, champion best practice, and share knowledge.

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Get the latest information affecting recruiters in health care, social care and social work, and meet other REC members in these sectors.

The sector group provides a forum to discuss public policy, market conditions, regulatory matters and wider issues in the health and social care arena. The group is committed to working with the NHS and DHSC to help deliver safe and effective care to patients, as well as addressing the resourcing challenges in areas like social care, domiciliary care and social work.

We actively campaign and lobby on behalf of members, and are taking forward the following priorities:

  •  Calling for a level playing field for all suppliers of health and social care staff to the NHS, and a market that is favourable to SMEs.
  • Pushing for data on the true costs of operating NHS banks, and whether they are in fact a cost-effective solution.
  • For caps and controls to be applied to NHS banks, in the same way that they are applied to NHS agency frameworks.
  • Highlighting and promoting the expertise of specialist recruitment agencies in supporting the NHS, in driving compliance standards and in improving patient safety.

Read the REC Health and social care manifesto (PDF)

Benefits of joining

  • Our diverse membership includes the NHS’s ten biggest staffing suppliers as well as hundreds of SMEs; what unites them is their commitment to robust compliance standards (as required through REC membership), and their dedication to providing 24/7 staffing solutions to the NHS and the wider sector.
  • Our membership includes over 450 recruitment agencies who supply clinical and non-clinical health and social care professionals to the NHS, as well as to local authorities.
  • Lobbying and campaign activities that help your business, clients and candidates.
  • Stay informed on the latest issues affecting the sector
  • Stay informed and prepare for upcoming legislation changes


The REC’s response to the Department for Education’s consultation on children’s social care reform

Responding to the launch of the consultation from the Department for Education(DfE), Children's social care: Stable Homes, Built on Love, Neil Carberry, Chief Executive at REC said:

“The staffing shortage in social work needs to be addressed, including through tackling the underlying funding crisis. But these proposals will do the opposite. Banning workers from freely choosing who they work for and ending team-based service delivery will damage services and drive people out of social work. A sensible framework to maintain quality and reduce unnecessary costs would be a far better choice. These proposals are likely to worsen staff shortages and burnout, underpin a lack of flexibility for staff and embed high caseloads. They treat skilled social workers as a commodity, rather than engaging with them as professionals. 

This is not a sustainable nor a long-term approach. We need proper workforce planning, rooted in partnership, that supports the supply and training of both permanent and temporary staff, recognising the value of agencies and agency workers that the sector can’t do without. 

We know many people choose to do agency work to enjoy the flexibility and working conditions – this has not been addressed in the government’s proposal. The sector needs to understand why people prefer to work via an agency. Without this, we are just scraping the surface of the staffing problems.  

The REC has been engaging with the Department for Education on these issues in recent months and we look forward to opening up a more positive conversation with a view to explore sustainable, realistic steps that work for service users, first and foremost.”

The consultation applies to England and can be found on the government’s website. The REC encourages our members supplying social workers to participate. The REC will also be responding to the consultation, as well as submitting an additional document in due course. If you’d like to share your input, please get in touch via The REC is in frequent contact with the team at DfE leading on this consultation and we will ensure the voice of the industry and members is effectively shared with them.

REC writes to Shadow Health Secretary

As NHS waiting lists and worker shortages continue to dominate headlines, the REC has written to Wes Streeting MP, Shadow Health Secretary about our shared vision for a long-term workforce strategy, staff retention plans, and better training in the NHS and care sector. In the letter, we highlight our concerns with current NHS frameworks, explaining why they need an overhaul. We also share the reasons why people choose to work via an agency and raise the need for a long-term workforce plan. To read this, download the letter Shadow Health Secretary.

REC comment following a BBC report on agency workers supporting the social care service

Kate Shoesmith, deputy chief executive at REC said:

“What matters most are the service users and the real issue for the social work sector is massive underfunding. The growing use of agency workers is a symptom of a sector without a workforce plan. Job vacancies in the industry have doubled in the past couple of years and staffing shortages are a significant challenge. 

“Agencies form an important part of the social work system, but a sustainable long-term approach would allow for workforce planning that supports the supply and training of both permanent and temporary staff. 

“Both outsourcing and agency staff help meet the needs of those who need care.  It’s worth understanding why social workers are choosing to work via an agency in the first place - they are predominantly doing so for the flexibility and progression it offers. 

“To solve this crisis in the workforce, we need the national government, local authorities and specifically Directors of Children Services to work with agencies, as experts in workforce planning, on the solutions.”

REC writes to Patricia Hewitt, chair of an independent review into integrated care systems

As part of the Autumn Statement, the government announced a new independent review into the oversight and governance of integrated care systems. Patricia Hewitt is delivering the review to reduce health disparities and improve health outcomes across the country. The REC has written to Patricia Hewitt introducing ourselves and the work of our members, urging her to consider workforce and procurement issues as part of the review. You can read the letter here.

It’s time to get the workforce strategy right, working with recruiters

The REC is aware of the media and political focus on the NHS staffing issues including agency costs due to the planned strikes. The REC is working with members to help with various media enquiries, and we have also published a statement setting out the REC’s position on the issue.

The REC writes to the new Health Secretary, Ministers at DHSC and the Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee

“As we welcome a new Prime Minister, we also have a new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, new health ministers and a new Health and Social Care Select Committee Chair.

The REC has written to all new stakeholders in the sector, welcoming them to the new roles and requesting a meeting to discuss workforce challenges across the NHS and social care. We hope to establish a genuine partnership with the department and the committee. Please click here to view the letter to the Secretary of State and the letter to the Health Select Committee Chair.

Be aware of third-party organisations claiming affiliation with Crown Commercial Service

The REC and Crown Commercial Service have been made aware of third party bid management organisations approaching recruitment agencies who claim they can guarantee a placement in a framework for a fee. Members should be wary of businesses approaching them with marketing materials and offering to write, submit, and manage bids for NHS Workforce Alliance frameworks. No organisation or business can guarantee bidders a place on a framework.

Crown Commercial Service treats all bidders equally and in line with the published procurement procedures. Such organisations’ target market appears to be SMEs looking to tender for Non Clinical Staffing framework. If this sounds familiar, please get in touch with to report the business and you can view a statement from Crown Commercial Service here.

Two new frameworks from Crown Commercial Service and Business Services Organisation

Crown Commercial Service has launched a Non-Clinical Staffing framework to supply temporary and fixed-term administrative and clerical staff to the public and third sector organisations such as NHS contracting authorities, local governments and charities. Members can find more information here and find the prior information notice here.

In Northern Ireland, a framework to supply agency nurses, midwives, health visitors and healthcare support workers has been launched after a couple of delays. Agencies are now invited to tender. You can find more information on tenders here.

NHS Identity checking and digital Right to Work checks

Recruitment agencies working with NHS Trusts have been required to carry out manual (in person) identity checks since 1 October 2022. The NHS identity checking is separate to right to work checks. Members are still able to conduct a digital right to work check using an identity service provider (IDSP). However, NHS Employers states that “for the purposes of NHS identity checking, a digital identity check does not negate the need for employers to see, verify and record original documents in person when the individual first takes up the position or is required to undertake induction or other type of training, whichever is sooner.”

The REC understands that NHS Employers is working to align the NHS identity checking service to other digital services currently offered in other sectors. The REC will be urging them to bring this forward as soon as possible.

A statement from the REC on temporary staffing in the NHS

The REC has been contacted by the Daily Mail and is aware they have been in touch with a number of members. They are asking about agency spend on locum doctors and have said it is too high. We have provided a robust quote as a result. You can view our statement below.

“NHS staffing agencies keep the health service on its feet, every day. By offering flexible staffing, they keep medical staff in the NHS and keep wards open. It is important to remember that almost all of the agency spend of the NHS is just the wages of doctors and nurses, doing their best for patients. The margin agencies take over the wages paid directly to staff covers things like National Insurance and the safety checks firms must do to make sure patients are kept safe.

Agencies and staff banks serve important but often different roles in supporting hospitals. Both have a vital role to play. But both need to work with the NHS on a staffing plan that delivers great care and value for the taxpayer. The real problem is that the NHS staffing frameworks are not fit for purpose – an unwillingness from Government to pay nurses and doctors what they are worth has led to more and more shifts being rejected, and more high-cost, last-minute shifts being needed. We are keen to work with the Government to address this, but heads have been stuck in the sand on the vital role of agency work.”

We have sent a shorter quote to the journalist but please see below a slightly longer explanation of our perspective on these comments by the journalist.

“It’s time for a grown-up look at the extent of the staff shortages in the NHS and what agencies have to do to help Trusts keep wards open. Without agencies working around the clock to provide staff, many patients wouldn’t get the care they need and for which they have probably already waited too long.  Agencies were commended during the pandemic for the support they provided.

A simple look at the accounts of healthcare agencies doesn’t paint an accurate picture of how the system works. Agency charges or “margins” are not profit – they include the large sums that go straight back to the Treasury in National Insurance Contributions. Margins also pay for compliance checks and training, plus the costs of running an agency on a 24/7 basis – an agency can provide a doctor who might have to travel from one part of the country to another at 2am.

In addition, agency margins and agency spend have come down in recent years. It’s simply not true that agencies are more expensive than using banks. Staffing banks aren’t asked to cap spending like agencies are.

The system for staffing the NHS is broken. We have repeatedly offered to sit down with government to review how agencies participate in staffing the NHS and to help them create a robust workforce plan - but those calls are ignored. If the framework system that is used to recruit agency staff made it easier for Trusts to serve patients then they wouldn’t resort to bypassing that system and using higher cost off-framework staffing options at short notice. The buck stops with the government who need to reform the system so that patients get far better care and taxpayers get better value for money.”

The Rt Hon Thérèse Coffey MP, new Health Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister

As our members will be aware, Therese Coffey MP has been appointed as the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care by the Prime Minister in September 2022. And the REC recently wrote to her, congratulating her and requesting a meeting to discuss workforce challenges across the NHS and social care. The former DWP Secretary and a long-term ally of Liz Truss is a familiar face to the REC. During her time at the DWP, the REC and the department worked closely to tackle on issues relating to helping those furthest from the labour market into work via a partnership agreement between us both. We look forward to working with the new Health Secretary and you can view the full letter here. In the letter, we outlined our initial asks of the department, from a fundamental review into frameworks and price caps to establishing a regular forum for those involved in temporary staffing.

The Health Minister thanks agencies for their work and recognises a need to collaborate to ensure a long-term sustainable workforce

In April 2022, the REC wrote to DHSC ministers to urge the department for a fundamental review of the workforce procurement system. This followed the new rate cards and price caps, published by NHSE/I in March 2022. The (then) Health Minister Maria Caulfield MP responded to the REC with a letter dated 31 August 2022. The letter started by acknowledging “the invaluable efforts made by the framework agencies” during a challenging period.

She concluded the letter by recognising the importance of long-term workforce planning as well as a need for various industry stakeholders to work together towards a sustainable NHS workforce. Keeping this message from the former Health Minister in mind, the REC will write to the new Health Secretary and her team shortly. 

NHS England appoints Health Education England boss Navina Evans as Chief Workforce Officer

NHS England (NHSE) has announced Dr Navina Evans as Chief Workforce Officer, replacing Prerana Issa (former Chief People’s Officer at NHSE) under a new title.

Dr Evans’s role oversees a merged workforce and people directorate, looking after supply & demand of workers, education and training. She is currently CEO of Health Education England (HEE) with significant experience in healthcare and workforce planning. As HEE is set to merge with NHSE, Dr Evans will carry both roles in tandem until April 2023.

The REC has written to Dr Evans, introducing our members and requesting a meeting with a view to discuss collaboration with our industry.

An update on our activities to seek a fundamental review and transformation of frameworks and price caps

Throughout April 2022, the REC took a wide range of actions in relation to NHSE/I’s price card for agency workers – reaching out to various teams at NHSE/I, the Health Secretary, the Health Minister as well as journalists. In recent weeks, we have also written to the Chair of the Health and Social Care Select Committee, Jeremy Hunt MP,  you can view the letter here. We have urged the committee to listen to the voice of the REC and members during the ongoing inquiry into workforce in health and social care. The REC has raised a number of important points in relation to the workforce issues such as the need for a fundamental review into frameworks and price caps and equal treatment of temporary workers. We have further shared our messages with a large number of stakeholders including teams at No 10, the Cabinet Office, the Shadow health team and all MPs on the select committee.

The REC healthcare campaign continues with NHSE/I and across media

As you’re aware, the REC wrote to the Health Secretary regrading equal treatment of agency workers and the confusion over the NI costs in the rate card. We have also shared a copy of this letter with journalists from trade press and saw one piece of coverage in Recruiter Magazine. The copy of the letter has also been shared with the Health Minister Edward Argar MP and Special Advisors to Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP. More recently, the REC has delivered similar messages to NHSE/I, writing to both CEO (Amanda Pritchard) and CFO (Julian Kelly), offering our views into the workforce strategy. View the full letter to NHSE/I here.  

The REC write to Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, on the updated price card and price caps

On 27 April 2022, the REC’s Deputy CEO, Kate Shoesmith wrote to Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Health, urging the department to carry out a fundamental review of the workforce procurement system following the publication of the latest agency price card from NHSE/I. In addition to our ongoing and previous engagement with NHSE/I and framework operators, the REC has written to key stakeholders across the industry. View the letter to the Secretary of State for Health here. 

NHS England’s new guidance to apply net zero approach to its supply chain

In March 2022, NHS England published new guidance to state the organisation’s policy objective to meet net zero carbon targets, formally adopting the UK government’s Social Value Model. From 1 April 2022, all NHS organisations commissioning goods and services must adopt the requirements of Procurement Policy Note (PPN 06/20). This means all suppliers of goods and services to NHS organisations will need demonstrate their net zero and social value approach during tender processes as an appropriate weighting for both will be added to the evaluation criteria.

To view the guidance from NHS England, please click here.

The REC’s position and engagement regarding NI increase and new price card for England and Wales

The REC wanted to make our healthcare members aware that we are actively talking to a range of healthcare stakeholders, from civil servants to governmental agencies in the sector in England and Wales. We will be discussing the way National Insurance (NI) increase and National Minimum Wage (NMW) increase might affect agencies as well as to urge for a fundamental review of frameworks and price caps with a view to develop a sustainable healthcare workforce system that protects patient safety and public money.

As you are aware, we have been updating our members on this hub regarding our engagement activities on the delayed price card for 2022/23 from NHSEI – reaching out to the temporary staffing team, CEO at NHSEI, DHSC team and the Health Minister Edward Argar MP. Despite having urged them consistently since the pay increase for NHS staff was announced in July 2021, NHSEI only published the new rate card yesterday (29 March 2022). And the new publication seems to indicate that agencies are responsible to cover the NI increase. Our concern is that this doesn’t only create operational challenges for agencies due to the short notice, but also we are aware of agencies’ concern on having to ‘absorb’ these additional costs when agencies can’t simply afford to. The REC will be reaching out to stakeholders such as No 10 business team and the Cabinet Office and our activities will be updated on this hub as usual.

In Wales, we are aware agencies have been communicated that there will be no changes to all Wales contracts and rates from April 2022, again creating a serious issue with agencies’ responsibility over the NI increase in Wales as well. We are looking at this as a number one priority and plan to firmly urge the procurement team to review this.

The REC writes to the Health Minister on the updated price cards and a fundamental review into frameworks

We are aware of REC healthcare members’ concern and frustration on the delayed publication of updated price cards for NHS agency workers in England. And the REC has been seeking an update and clarification for many months since the pay increase was announced. The latest information as of 22 March is that NHSE/I has now finalised the new rate and updated price cards are due to be published shortly. Our members will hear from framework operators soon. On another note, the REC has reached out to the Health Minister this week on the same topic. You can view our letter to the minister for health here, which seeks the reason behind the significant delay in updating the rate and urges for an overall, fundamental review into price caps and frameworks.

The REC meets with Andy Brittain, Director General for Finance at DHSC

Last month, the REC met with Andy Brittain, Director General for Finance at DHSC and discussed a range of industry topics. The REC had a chance to further highlight the value of the agency workforce and flag key issues for members such as worker shortages, price caps and frameworks. The REC also followed up with Andy with a comprehensive briefing pack explaining the scale, the impact and the influence of the REC healthcare members and offering the wide range of industry market intelligence that the REC is keen to share. The briefing pack will be shared with senior members of different teams and departments across DHSC with a view to start a conversation between the department and the medical recruitment industry.

Made with Care - DHSC and DWP’s national recruitment campaign for adult social care

DHSC and DWP have launched a national campaign Made with Care to help recruitment businesses attract the right candidates into social care. The sector-focused campaign aims to raise the profile of the adult social care sector as a rewarding and stimulating industry to work and to support the existing recruitment efforts being delivered by employers and agencies. The government has produced a range of campaigns and communications materials for businesses to distribute, from email templates to leaflets and social media copies. The REC members operating across the sector are encourage to visit the campaign website as well as to download the campaign toolkit.  

The REC has been raising the awareness of the worker shortages in the care sector through the Labour and Skills Shortages campaign. In recent months, the government announced a number of measures to address the issue such as adding care occupations to the Shortage Occupation List, a £500m funding towards training and supporting social care workforce as well as this national, ongoing campaign.

Mandatory vaccines for healthcare staff to be revoked from 15 March

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has confirmed that regulations making Covid-19 vaccines a condition of deployment in health and social care will be revoked from 15 March. The announcement came after a public consultation from February where 90% of responses supported the removal of the legal requirement for healthcare staff to be fully vaccinated.

Under previous measures, care home staff working at CQC-registered organisations had to be fully vaccinated in order to hold a patient-facing role in England. All frontline NHS England staff were also due to be required to do this from April – this has now been reversed.

For more information, please read the official press release.

DHSC continues their vaccinations campaign for agency staff in adult social care

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) continues to urge all adult social care staff to receive a booster, as vaccination remains the best line of defence against Covid-19. While the take-up of booster shots among agency staff has increased, there are still less than one in five are recorded as having received their third dose. All care home staff including agency staff are also eligible for priority queuing by presenting this letter and proof of employment. The department urges those involved in the sector to encourage colleagues to come forward for their booster vaccinations through this letter.

The Welsh government announces covid bonus for social care workers

The Deputy Minister for Social Services Julie Morgan MS has announced that social care workers in Wales are set to receive a £1,000 payment, in a bid to recognise the value of the sector’s workforce as well as to ease the pressure from the recruitment crisis. The payment will be made to registered care homes and home care workers and is expected to extend to around 53,000 care workers. However, it is not yet clear which occupations are covered under the scheme or whether it will extend to temporary workers. The REC is seeking clarity on the details of the scheme and will work to ensure there is parity for all involved in the sector.  Please click here to view our thoughts on the announcement.

Consultation on removing mandatory vaccines as a condition of deployment for healthcare staff

Following a statement delivered by the Health Secretary last month, DHSC has published the details of the consulation on removing mandatory vaccines as a condition of deployment for healthcare staff. The government is seeking views on revoking the provisions by encouraging businesses and members of the public to participate in a survey. The consultation is open until 11:45pm on 16 February and the details on the consultation can be found here.

Long-term workforce planning for healthcare

Ahead of our meeting with Andy Brittain, the Director General of Finance at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) on Wednesday, we have shared some insights about  the current state of the UK’s healthcare system, based on a series of conversations we’ve had with healthcare members from across the industry.The main issues raised include staff shortages, unsustainable levels of mismatch between supply and demand of labour, and staff burnout. If you want to share any of your experiences, please get in touch via You can view the letter to Andy Brittain here.

Consultation to be launched to review mandatory vaccines for health and social care staff

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced that measures to mandate Covid-19 vaccines for health and social care staff are set to be revoked, subject to consultation results and parliamentary approval.

Since November 2021, all care home workers in England have been required to be fully vaccinated. The regulations were set to be extended to all frontline NHS England staff from April 2022. However, amid the growing fear of staff shortages and warnings from a range of sector stakeholders, the government has announced a ‘U-turn’ on the policy.

For more information, please view the government’s press release.  A direct link to the consultation page will be added here once it has been published.

Richard Meddings appointed new Chair of NHS England

The Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England have confirmed Richard Meddings as new Chair of NHS England. With a robust background in banking and financial services, Meddings has previously served on HM Treasury’s Board and as Chair of TSB Bank. Coming into the role at a critical time, Meddings will focus on the NHS’s recovery from the pandemic and expanding its workforce. The REC has written to Mr Meddings, congratulating him on his new role and requesting a meeting where we can share our expertise and insights into NHS workforce planning. Click here to view our letter.

Operational Guidance for social care settings other than care homes

The Department of Health and Social Care has published a series of guidance documents as frontline workers carrying out CQC-regulated social care activities will need to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 from 1 April 2022. For the information aimed at service providers and people employed to provide CQC-regulated social care activities in settings other than care homes, please read the guidance - Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination as a condition of deployment for the delivery of CQC-regulated activities in wider adult social care settings. For the overview of the guidance for care homes and care home workers, please read the guidance - Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination of people working or deployed in care homes: operational guidance.

The REC meets Business Services Organisation in Northern Ireland

The REC and Business Services Organisation (BSO) – who is responsible for Health and Social Care’s procurement – met for the first time on 13 January 2022 where we discussed a range of topics from the importance of agency staff, the upcoming framework and how the REC and BSO can work together in future. This was an opportunity to share sector intelligence with BSO’s procurement team and get clarification on future plans regarding market engagement and upcoming frameworks.

The REC and BSO agreed to meet regularly going forward.

Changes to the immigration system for workers in social care announced

In light of severe staff shortages, the Home Office has announced temporary changes to visa requirements for those in the social care sector. These changes should enable more international workers to be recruited into the UK’s social care sector.

Occupations within the sector are set to be added to the Shortage Occupation List from early 2022, allowing care workers, care assistants and care home workers to be eligible for the Health and Care Worker Visa.

The temporary measures will be in place for a 12-month period, making it easier for social care employers to fill gaps in the workforce.

Read the governmental press release for more information.

Contact your MLA about the Covid-19 Special Recognition Payment (SRP)

Building on our recent campaign activity, the REC has drafted a template letter for members based in Northern Ireland to use to contact their MLA about the SRP for agency workers. Members and individual workers can write to their MLA, as constituents, urging them to work with the Department of Health and Health Minister to bring parity for the agency workforce in Northern Ireland. For more information about the Covid-19 Special Recognition Payment and other REC activities, please see the previous updates below.

You can find out who your local MLA is.

Mandatory vaccination for NHS staff in England voted through by MPs

On 14 December, MPs voted in favour of vaccination as a condition of deployment for all patient-facing workers in England. The vote passed with a 285-majority. This means that all frontline NHS staff will have to have two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine in order to maintain their roles unless they are medically exempt.

Conscious of the potential for further staff shortages that trade bodies, including the REC have raised, the government has introduced a 12-week grace period –  as they did for care home workers. The Department aims to begin enforcing the requirement from 1 April 2022.

A letter from NHS England and Improvement on review of price caps and price cards

Following a letter from the REC to NHS England and Improvement (NHSEI) dated 25 November, we have now received a response which you can view here. The REC is currently drafting a follow up letter to the Department of Health and Social Care in order to raise and discuss the price caps for agency workers further.

£300m of support measures from DHSC for the workforce across the care sector

On 10 December, Health Secretary Sajid Javid MP announced a package of new support measures, making £300m available to protect and support social care workers during the ongoing pandemic. Along with the £162.5m fund announced a few months ago, the funding will go towards the recruitment and retention of care sector staff in the form of bonuses, pay rises and overtime payment.

By introducing this measure, the department is hoping to reduce pressure on the NHS ahead of a difficult winter.

Changes to Covid-19 testing regime were also announced. Care staff previously had to take two lateral flow tests per week, however they are now required to take three lateral flow tests, along with one PCR test each week.

For more information, please see the government press release.

REC letter to Department of Health – Covid-19 Special Recognition Payment

The REC has today written to Northern Ireland Health Minister, Robin Swann MLA regarding the Covid-19 Special Recognition Payments (SRP) for agency workers in Northern Ireland. A copy of the letter has been shared with Health and Social Care (HSC) and the Business Services Organisation (BSO). Medical recruitment agencies in Northern Ireland recently received instruction from HSC regarding SRP for agency staff, however eligibility terms and conditions actually prevent the majority of agency staff qualifying for the bonus. In the letter, the REC has urged DH to extend the scope of the SRP to include all critical workers, substantive and agency. Given the significant administrative burden, we have also asked for an extension to submit claims beyond 31 December 2021. Lastly, we have asked DH to conduct the necessary eligibility checks before any worker receives payment from any party, putting the onus on the Department and not on agencies.  The REC is meeting with HSC in January 2022.

The REC’s statement on Northern Ireland’s Covid-19 Special Recognition Payment

The REC has issued a statement regarding Covid-19 Special Recognition Payment for agency workers in Northern Ireland. In the statement, the REC urges Health and Social Care (HSC) to bring forward parity for agency and substantive workers, all of whom showed unreserved dedication for their patients throughout the pandemic. HSC previously has announced the one-off bonus for frontline medical staff, as a sign of recognition and gratitude for their contribution throughout the pandemic but while most substantive staff have received this payment, recent instruction from HSC prevent the majority of agency staff from qualifying for the bonus. The REC is working closely with the members in Northern Ireland and a further letter will be issued to HSC shortly. A meeting between the REC and HSC has also been scheduled in January.

Care Minister, Gillian Keegan MP, announces £500m fund towards training and supporting social care workforce

Ahead of the implementation of the Social Care Levy, last week, Care Minister, Gillian Keegan MP made a statement on social care and presented a White Paper outlining the government’s 10-year-vision for the sector. The paper and statement have three core aspects; housing, technology and workforce. Workforce receives the highest level of funding with £500m towards development, progression and qualification. The government’s objective is to create a workforce that is well-trained, healthy, supported, sustainable, and recognised.

 Read the government’s white paper for more information. The section about workforce starts at page 65.

The REC writes to NHSE/I regarding agency price cards update

We would like to provide the latest on the delayed publication of the updated price cards 2021-2022 for the NHS agency workforce. We updated our members a couple of weeks ago, via the sector hub page, that the REC had been in touch with NHSEI multiple times in the last few months to address the delay on the new price cards reflecting the NHS pay increase. Based on recent conversations, the REC now understands that the publication is further delayed.

 As such, the REC has once again written to NHSEI, expressing our concern about the delay and the negative impact it will have on recruitment businesses. We’ve also sought clarification on the rationale behind the delay, the timing of publication, and the scope of the pay rate review. The REC is working to bring forward the fair and equal treatment of agency workforce ensure there is transparent and meaningful engagement between NHSEI and the medical recruitment sector. The letter sent to Amanda Pritchard, CEO, NHSEI can be found here.

NHS England puts workforce planning and digital transformation at the heart of the agenda

The Health Secretary has announced major reforms to England’s healthcare regime by merging Health Education England (HEE), NHSX and NHS Digital into NHS England and Improvement (NHSE/I). By combining the education body of the NHS with NHSE/I, the department hopes to bring together financial planning, workforce planning and workforce development into a single organisation where a simplified and integrated national strategy for the NHS is viable. The merger will also bring forward strategic changes to education and training to allow employers to recruit the right level and volume of health professionals and skills at the right places with a view to increase patients benefits.

While NHSX and NHS Digital have already delivered innovative solutions to the healthcare sector, with a single central unit combined with NHSE/I, the government hopes to speed up delivering digital transformation across health and care for the years to come while contributing to tackling the patient backlog and recovering services following the pandemic.

For more information, you can read the department’s press release.

The REC writes to Northern Ireland Minister, Robin Swann MLA

The REC has written to Northern Ireland’s Health Minister to raise concerns about the forth extension to the agency workforce framework in Northern Ireland. There are two main concerns regarding this extension; firstly, there is limited opportunity to discuss the price caps, and secondly agencies that are currently not on framework have been unable to access it. The REC used the opportunity to urge the Department of Health and Business Services Organisation (BSO) to offer better market engagement and supplier communications. You can read our letter here.

REC’s response to staff shortages in healthcare and costs of agency workforce

The REC is aware of a story in the Guardian newspaper regarding the cost of agency workers in the midst of staff shortages in the health and social care sectors. The REC has responded to both the journalist and the National Care Association setting out our members’ position. The REC has long called for a comprehensive workforce review for the health and care sectors to address ongoing skills shortages, particularly as inflated wages are a short-term approach to the crisis. Please click here to view our full statement.

Sajid Javid announces mandatory vaccines for frontline NHS staff across England

On 9 November, the Health Secretary announced that Covid-19 vaccinations will be a condition of deployment for all frontline NHS staff in England starting 1 April 2022 following the consultation on the measures over Autumn. While he understands that there are pressures on the workforce and industry’s concerns around labour shortages, the government, NHS England and other advisors have concluded that vaccines are the most effective forms of protection against Covid-19. Subject to parliamentary vote, the new legislation will be applied to those who have face-to-face interaction with patients unless they are medically exempt.

Last month, the REC delivered a letter to Sajid Javid, outlining the views of our healthcare members on compulsory Covid-19 vaccines based on a poll we carried out during the sector webinar on 12 October. During the poll, 75% of the respondents thought vaccines should be required for NHS staff. However, a majority of the participants were concerned that mandatory vaccines could exacerbate medical workforce shortages. Recognising the risk of staff leaving the sector and listening to the industry, a grace period until April next year has been introduced and Sajid Javid said the department and NHS England will use the time between now and then to vaccinate more frontline workers as well as to carry out workforce planning.

The announcement comes as mandatory covid-19 vaccines for care workers are set to come into effect on 11 November in England. There are no similar proposals from devolved nations.

£162m funding for adult social care to boost workforce recruitment and retention across England

On 3 November, the Department of Health and Social Care published guidance on Workforce Recruitment and Retention Fund for adult social care announcing £162m funding to support local authorities and social care providers maintain safe staffing levels over the winter period and to grow and retain sufficient workforce capacity level across services.

Local authorities are encouraged to boost staff wages and launch various local recruitment initiatives with the funding. While the main purpose of the funding is to support local authorities address workforce capacity issues, the department also urges councils to work closely with their partner organisations to discuss ways that the sectors can work together to attract new staff while retaining the existing workforce.

The guidance is part of wider policy paper on Adult social care: COVID-19 winter plan 2021 to 2022 which outlines elements of national support for adult social care and workforce planning. The announcement applies to England only.

NHS England’s agency price cards to remain the same until the new year

The REC is aware that NHS England is yet to publish the updated price card for 2021-2022 for NHS agency workforce to reflect the 3% pay increase that was announced for NHS staff a couple of months ago. The REC has been in touch with NHSEI multiple times in the last few months to flag this and understand the reason behind the delay.

 The REC has been advised that, while there has been a delay, “NHSEI is reviewing and processing to update the price caps as a priority and a decision and final approval are expected ‘sometime in the new year’”.  NHSEI would like to inform all agencies that “there are no changes to the price caps and they should continue to apply the current caps until further notice.”  The reason given for the delay is a rigorous review process being applied.

 The REC is continuing our engagement with NHSEI, we will keep pushing for a more exact timeframe of publication and any updates from NHSEI will be published on this sector page. If you would like to share your feedback on how this delay is affecting your businesses, please get in touch.


The Chancellor delivers the Autumn Budget including the biggest healthcare funding since 2010

On 27 October, Chancellor Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP delivered the Budget which focused on a strong economic recovery, public finance and employment support. With rising inflation, a climate emergency, and energy shortages, the announcement’s main goals are to support people with the cost of living and help government achieve its ambition of levelling up.

For businesses, Sunak announced a range of support measures from a 50% business rate cut for certain industries and cancelling next year’s increase in the business rates multiplier. You can also take a look at the REC’s budget roundup and wider analysis.

For the healthcare sector, clearing the NHS backlog continues to be an immediate priority alongside putting the adult social care funding mechanism in place through the so-called social care levy announced earlier this year. Other key points include:

  • The government has provided the largest real-terms health budget since 2010, totalling £177.4bn by 2024-25
  • ‘Hundreds of millions of pounds’ of additional funding towards to build “a bigger, better trained NHS workforce.”
  • Commitment to recruit 50,000 more nurses
  • Social care levy will go towards tackling the elective backlog and adult social care
  • £4.2bn into building 40 new hospitals by 2030 and upgrading over 70 hospitals

On the points regarding the workforce, the REC will work to ensure that the government puts the diverse nature of the workforce at the heart of its agenda, incorporating temporary and flexible workers. To read the full Budget document, please view Autumn Budget and Spending Review 2021.

The REC has delivered our members’ view to DHSC on mandatory vaccine for frontline healthcare workers

The DHSC consultation on compulsory Covid-19 and flu vaccines for all health and social care workers closed on 22 October. Ahead of the consultation closing, the REC wrote to the Health Secretary, outlining the views of our healthcare members on the proposed measures based on a poll we carried out during the sector webinar earlier this month.

 During the survey, 75% of participants said that they think mandatory vaccines should be required for NHS staff. However, the majority of our members were concerned that there would be a negative impact on the medical workforce, further labour shortages and a lack of clear guidance from the government on how employers should verify the vaccination status and medical exemption. You can view the letter to the Department of Health and Social Care  and the recording of the healthcare webinar

A new £250m Winter Access Fund to help GPs in England with patient support

The Department for Health and Social Care and NHS England and Improvement (NHSE&I) have published ‘Our plan for improving access for patients and supporting general practice’, setting out the measures around how the funding will be spent to increase patient accessibility while exploring balanced hybrid access models.

 While the decision makers of the usage of the fund are the local health systems, the fund is designed to deliver two main aspects 1) improved access to urgent, same day primary care by increasing capacity and GP appointment numbers achieved at practice or PCN level, or in combination and 2) increased resilience of the NHS urgent care system during winter, by expanding same day urgent care capacity, through other services in any primary and community settings.

The document published last week also highlights that NHSE&I is working to increase the number of GPs to 6,000 – in line with the Government’s manifesto commitment. Additionally, NHSE&I is required to achieve a target of 15,500 new primary care professionals by March 2022 which will provide additional support GPs.

 Key messages from the Winter Access Fund have been set out below:

  • Additional capacity funding for system for more prompt access to appointment
  • Expanding numbers of GPs and other primary care professionals
  • Moving to cloud-based practice telephony to increase the capacity for digital communications channels
  • Making best use of community pharmacy to alleviate pressure on GP appointments and harness the skills of community pharmacists
  • Practice-level review of levels of face-to-face care to review the right balance for patients between remote and face-to-face consultations
  • A system to evaluate patient satisfaction to be rolled out as early as April 2022

For more information, please read the official document.

Guidances on mandatory vaccine for care home workers in England

From 11 November 2021 and following a 16-week grace period, anyone entering a CQC-registered care home in England must be fully vaccinated or prove that they are exempt. The new requirement will apply to care home staff, agency workers, contractors and volunteers. Please see guidance published by the Department of Health & Social Care for details.

Acas, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, has also published a useful guidance outlining who is required to be fully vaccinated and how employers should plan and discuss the new requirement with staff and contractors, which can be found here.

Government announces an increase in national insurance contribution 

The Government has today 7th September 2021 announced an 1.25% increase in national insurance contributions,– called ‘social care levy’- which is set to generate £12bn annually. The levy aims to increase the NHS capacity to 110% with contributions from both employees and employers. The short-term aim of the levy is to help the NHS clear the backlog of elective care and tackle the waitlist for the next three years while the long-term goal is to “protect individuals and families against unpredictable and potentially catastrophic care costs”. Subject to the vote in Parliament on 8 September, the levy is set to begin in April 2022 and people entering into care from October 2023 will have access to the new measures. The Government claims the tax rise is a ‘fair contribution’ where every individual and business will contribute according to their means, pledging to protect small businesses. The Government has published a full document on their plan for health and social care which can be found here. For the REC’s initial thoughts please click here.

Join the Health and Social Care sector group

If you’re interested in joining the REC Health and Social Care sector group, contact your REC account manager at or 020 7009 2100