Dealing with concerns involving agency staff

Last Updated 02/02/2021


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Some organisations use staff retained through agencies (or a third-party provider of bank staff).

If there’s a concern about the practice of an agency nurse or midwife, the organisation in which the incident occurred or where the concerns were identified should work closely with the agency to decide:

  • how to investigate the concern (if necessary)
  • how to prevent risks to people who use services
  • whether the person needs health and wellbeing support and whether it can be offered or signposted.

Sharing information with the agency

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Normally the organisation in which an incident happened, or where concerns were raised, will have relevant information about:

  • what happened or what concerns were raised about the person’s behaviour
  • any systems issues or workplace pressures at the time
  • any witnesses to the incident or the concerns.

Sharing information (while complying with relevant data protection legislation) means you can work together to respond to the concerns effectively (see next section).

Employers and agencies working together

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When an organisation has concerns about an agency member of staff, they might be inclined not to offer them any more shifts. While this approach might address the immediate risks for the organisation, it doesn’t help the agency understand them. Nor does it give the professional the chance to address the concerns.

So it’s better to work together if there’s a patient safety incident and/or concerns about an agency nurse or midwife’s practice. Working together can include:

  • clearly identifying who’ll lead an investigation into the concerns, and which process will apply
  • identifying who’ll be a point of contact and make sure that the member of the public and/or family is involved in any investigation where relevant
  • keeping in close contact during an investigation, to share updates and information, and manage any risks related to someone’s practice
  • the agency checking records of any history of concerns, or information about other agencies or employers that the professional works for – this should inform any decision about how to respond
  • agreeing next steps after an investigation ends, which might include supporting the professional to address any concerns, or the organisation or the agency making a regulatory referral.

There are other opportunities for organisations and agencies to work together. For example, an agency might decide to make a referral to us based on concerns across different organisations. They may need the organisations to collaborate on supporting information for the referral.

Sometimes we ask for information from both the organisations and agencies when we respond to referrals from people using services or members of the public.

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