We strongly recommend that NHS organisations only use external staffing providers (such as agencies and contractors) that are on a national agency framework agreement approved by NHS Improvement because of the quality benchmark this can provide.
While this gives a certain level of assurance about the way they operate and the services they provide, it is important to reinforce that employing organisations retain the overarching responsibility to ensure that agencies and other staffing providers operate robust and effective recruitment processes which are aligned to the NHS Employment Check Standards.
Any agreement between the organisation and the staffing provider should be explicit in what is required from both parties throughout the contract.
We would recommend that the employing organisation includes the following in any contract agreement.
- The type and level of background checks which must be undertaken for any given role, including any requirement for periodic checks or reviews.
- The duty on the staffing provider to provide written assurances to verify that all workers they supply have the correct level of clearances commensurate to the duties they will be required to undertake during the term of the contract.
- The right for the employing organisation to undertake periodic auditing of the suppliers' screening processes at any time, to ensure these remain aligned to the NHS Employment Check Standards.
- Reciprocal duties to share relevant and appropriate information where there are any concerns about the worker or they have been subjected to disciplinary action, dismissal from employment or removal from the register, arrest or charge for a criminal offence, during the term of their contract which may raise questions about their suitability to undertake a particular role.
In the event of the staffing providers' standards differing from those of the employing organisation, a decision should be made about how the shortfall can be addressed. In some cases, the employing organisation may choose to carry out its own additional pre-employment screening. These issues should be resolved during the drafting of the agreement between two parties.
It will also be useful to make clear that any failure to comply with any of the requirements outlined within the contract may result in:
- any payment for their services being suspended until appropriate assurances have been provided to evidence that staff have been adequately screened
- them being held liable for any financial penalties imposed as a result of discovering that staff have not been adequately screened.