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High levels of demand from organisations within the NHS are creating significant opportunities for UK recruiters who are able to supply the qualified staff they need on an agency basis.

According to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, 80% of recruitment agencies are currently able to fill half or less of the requests for temporary staff that they receive from the NHS, with the number of doctors and nurses willing to work on such a basis declining due to caps on pay.

Roughly a third (35%) of recruiters told the REC they receive over 100 requests from NHS trusts each week – no change since a previous poll conducted six months ago, but before the agency caps came into effect in November 2015.

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Immediately following the introduction of the caps, the festive season brought spikes in demand, with 80% of recruiters supplying staff to the NHS on Christmas Day itself, along with 85% on each of Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve.

Kevin Green, chief executive of the REC, said: “The NHS remains dependent upon locum doctors and nurses to plug holes in its workforce because it is bad at attracting and retaining staff.

“Since Christmas, more than four in ten agencies we spoke to have taken calls from permanent NHS employees looking to quit their job and begin agency work.”

Putting aside the political issues involved, there is a clear opportunity for UK recruiters who are able to put in place a sustainable delivery model for temporary workers in the NHS on reduced margins.

Outsourcing is one opportunity to do just that, by benefiting from improved efficiencies and reduced running costs – all of which can help to ensure vacancies are offered to qualified agency workers at an appealing rate of pay whilst providing a workable return on investment for the recruiter.