Many nurses work for agencies, which means they change jobs frequently. This gives them flexibility, but it also helps plug staff shortfalls in the care sector.

Agency nurses

The Telegraph reported that health service regulators found that in 2014-15, NHS foundation trusts, which now run two thirds of hospitals, spent approximately £1.8 billion on agency workers alone.

Around 1.5 million people work for the NHS, and roughly 159,000 of these are considered temporary or agency staff. With figures like these, it’s evident that agency staff play a large role in propping up the NHS.

Record checks

Anyone who works with children or vulnerable people is required to undergo a DBS check, such as those from carecheck. This ensures that unsuitable recruits are eliminated and the recruitment decision process is safer for employers, such as the NHS.

 Previously, NHS workers, such as agency nurses, who changed their jobs frequently were required to apply for a DBS check every time they took on a new role, even if it was temporary. They would also need to get this check completed when registering with a new agency.

For nurses, particularly those not in employment, this rule was burdensome, proving costly and time-consuming without providing any guarantee of securing a new role.

New regulations

Recognising this administrative burden, the government introduced new legislation that meant that once agency nurses had undergone their checks and obtained their DBS certificate, they could use the same one each time they applied for a new role or changed agencies. It would also apply to those nurses who are seeking voluntary positions.

By reducing the bureaucracy and saving time and money, nurses could be recruited more quickly and more efficiently without the time lag of waiting for checks to be completed.

Crucially, for positions that require nurses for a very short-term basis, it now means gaps can be readily filled with reduced paperwork.

The new regulation has been welcomed by agency nurses and employers within the public and private sectors.

To ensure the certificate is current, staff can check its status online.

It’s not just agency nurses who are able to benefit from the change in legislation; junior and locum doctors, who often move to different hospitals, also only need to complete a single check.