The UK healthcare industry is in shock after the latest unearthing of right to work fraud in the healthcare sector. The Reliable Care scandal highlights the importance of supplier checks for reassurance, corporate compliance and most importantly patient / resident safety.

Whilst the Reliable Care Scandal is an isolated event, incidents of this nature damage the reputation of healthcare and temporary staffing and reinforce that it is critical for organisations to work with 100% compliant nursing agencies, without exception. It also provides all healthcare organisations the opportunity to review their current position. It is important to remember that most temporary staffing contracts between healthcare provider and temporary staffing agency are for staff, not care services (except in home care environments where the agency would be CQC registered). This means that contractually the agency is not responsible for the care provided.

Therefore the responsibility to ultimately ensure that agency staff are fully compliant, could legally be argued as down to the healthcare organisation procuring the staff. Remember the beneficiary of the care services is the end client.

And ignorance is not a defence, with the serious consequences of being found employing someone illegally and not having carried out the prescribed checks being so serious, why take the risk:

  • A civil penalty of £20,000 per illegal worker
  • Up to 5 years imprisonment
  • And many more including damage to reputation

Ask the question internally now, when did your organisation last perform a temporary staff audit with agency suppliers? Our recommendation would be at least every twelve months or more often where there is extended use with a certain staffing supplier. I suspect this is not the case and audits are rarely carried out.

What is a temporary staffing audit?

This can be a fairly simple process that can be done on-site at the agency or even as a secure remote process. The following elements are essential to review:

  • Face to face identity checks against an original official photo ID (passport, visa, driving licence)
  • Passport and photo ID scanning software utilised (NHS minimum requirements)
  • Right to work document checks – use latest home office guidance updated January 2019 – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/right-to-work-checks-employers-guide
  • Checking references were obtained correctly prior to starting employment – Best practice could be two references obtained covering a minimum of 3 three years. A minimum of one work reference from an official source (work email domain).
  • Regular NMC pin checks for registered nurses
  • Checking validity and date of DBS – evidence that the original DBS was checked in person if using update service or a new DBS is obtained in the agency name, to be checked or renewed annually

We challenge all healthcare providers who use agencies to audit their providers to double check the response. Give clear instruction, randomise a 10% pool of agency staff and provide deadlines to analyse response times.

Helping healthcare organisations manage agencies is a key focus at Go Apply. We can support internal vacancy reduction and reducing agency costs, the agency PSL process as well as essential audits and audit process guidance. Get in touch now to arrange an informal chat and discuss how we can help your organisation.