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The first ever long-term NHS plan has been released – it focuses on retaining talent and creating the biggest recruitment drive in health service history.

Responding to the publication, the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) Deputy Chief Executive Kate Shoesmith, said, “We have waited far too long for this plan. There is a desperate need for a long-term workforce plan for NHS because our data shows more than 68,000 unfilled job vacancies for nurses in June alone – far more job ads than for nursery, primary and secondary teaching professionals combined.

“Inaction by government means this recruitment crisis is sadly engrained, as our recent Report on Jobs shows that permanent and temporary vacancies in the healthcare sector have now risen for 34 months in a row.

“NHS England wanting to reduce their expensive staff bills is understandable but has been unachievable because of its failure to attract and retain staff. This has left agencies playing a more crucial role in staffing than their original purpose to plug gaps.”

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Kate added, “Rather than condemn and sideline agencies, these agencies show the NHS how to give healthcare workers flexible working, more regular pay, feelings of esteem and more frequent time away from the hectic frontline.

“Agency is actually not the most expensive option when it comes to staffing solutions. The cost of the temporary workforce has been increasing sharply since the pandemic but this is largely due not to agencies but to the NHS’ increasing spend elsewhere, from staff banks to off-framework contracts, where the systems put in place to manage costs have failed.

“Employment experts, such as recruiters, can really help build an understanding of staffing cost control, so it is imperative the government works with our sector if they want this plan to deliver meaningful change.”

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