• HPMA chief Dean Royles expresses “shock” at reports of agencies raising rates
  • Anyone seeking to profit from covid-19 “should be ashamed of themselves”, says Danny Mortimer
  • Ministers have already urged agencies to cooperate with NHS

NHS workforce chiefs have expressed concern over reports of recruitment agencies increasing their rates for staff since the coronavirus outbreak, in what appears to be profiteering.

Dean Royles, president of the Healthcare People Management Association, raised the alarm on Twitter late Thursday night. He said he was “shocked to hear stories of recruitment agencies increasing clinical staff rates at this time”.

Meanwhile, NHS Employers chief executive Danny Mortimer told HSJ he understood a “small number” of temporary staffing agencies were charging higher rates for workers since the pandemic struck the UK.

Mr Mortimer said: “The overwhelming majority of staffing agencies are working within the clear agreements that are already in place in relation to providing those staff and charging for their time.

“But there can be no doubt that any organisation seeking to take advantage of the unprecedented need for more nurses and other staff for their own financial gain should be ashamed of themselves.”

Mr Mortimer was, however, unable to give specific examples of such behaviour. HSJ has contacted Mr Royles to ask for further details about the reports he cited in his tweet, but he had not responded at the time of publication.

Earlier this week, care minister Helen Whately urged recruitment agencies to work constructively with health and care services to help maintain safe staffing levels during the outbreak.

In a letter to recruitment agencies on Monday, Ms Whately said the government is encouraging trusts to work in a “collegiate” way but urged agencies to cooperate with efforts accordingly.