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Getting the most from your temporary healthcare support staff

By Rob Muddiman on 17 Mar 2016

Clinical support staff are essential to the smooth running of GP practices and healthcare organisations across the UK.
These roles are often in demand and require locum staff to fill positions. If you are using temporary staff it is relatively simple to ensure that your practice or healthcare organisation gets full value for money from its temporary employees.

When should you use temporary or locum staff?

Temp staff allows your health organisation to adjust more quickly to varying workloads, giving your workforce flexibility. Unexpected demands or last minute eventualities such as holiday, sickness or parental absence can be covered.

Should I use specialised temp staff?

There are a number of highly skilled medical support candidates available on the market. Practices that specialise in certain medical treatment or areas that require temp or locum staff can make the most of these workers and can alleviate re-hiring issues. Hiring specialist temporary staff also means that they should be able to hit the ground running, without a long induction or training period.

Temporary or fixed term contract?

A temporary worker is generally defined as one supplied by a consultancy on an adhoc basis, usually without a defined period of employment. A contract worker, on the other hand, is generally on a fixed term assignment, often employed directly by the client.

Motivating temporary workers

Keeping temporary staff happy and content is essential for productive performance. Any individual with a good work ethic wants to do well in their job be it temp or perm; and if they are treated as a valued member of the team then you will have an efficient worker.

You may well wish to re-hire current temporary employees or even offer them permanent roles, so it is important to give them a positive impression of your organisation. Temporary staff should be looked at like your permanent staff. If a temp has done well in their role, a simple expression of appreciation and gratitude is often all it takes to ensure they continue to excel.

One of the most important factors in keeping your temps happy is to ensure that they are paid on time.  Make sure you always book a temporary or interim worker in with your consultancy, rather than directly with the employee, and ensure that their timesheet is signed off in time.  If you know you are not going to be available to authorise a timesheet at a given time, you can make arrangements with your consultancy so that the temporary worker is not penalised.

Involvement and Integration

Integrating temporary staff into your own workforce effectively will produce the best results.  After October 2011, when the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 come into force, it will also be a legal requirement for employers to ensure that temporary workers have the same basic employment and working conditions as comparable permanent employees.

When temporary staff arrive, make sure that someone is assigned to meet and welcome them, show them their work station and let them know who to report to
If time permits, introducing a temporary employee to other members of the team or organisation will help them feel welcomed and included
Temporary staff should have access to staff canteens, childcare or similar facilities
Ensure temporary workers are notified of any internal vacancies, eg via an intranet or notice board
Make sure your regular staff, particularly at a senior level, understand the value of temporary employees to your organisation and that they respect both them and the contribution they make
Report back to your consultancy immediately if a temporary worker does not meet your standards or requirements

TPP Healthcare are experts in recruiting for permanent and temporary professionals for the healthcare sector and health charities. If you would like to discuss, your organisation’s temporary or permanent requirements and how we can help, please contact us on 020 7198 6080 or email