Case studies

Non Clinical Temporary and Fixed Term Staff


The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust is responsible for providing NHS ambulance services in the counties of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, and Suffolk. It is 1 of 10 ambulance service trusts providing England with emergency medical services. The trust also provides non-emergency patient transport services, commercial services, and special operations.

Through the NHS Workforce Alliance’s Non Clinical Temporary and Fixed Term Staff framework, the trust has a long standing relationship with Reed to fulfil their non-clinical temporary staff needs across a range of specialisms.

In March 2020, 2 days after the country went into its first national lockdown, the trust had an urgent need for 12 emergency call handlers. Within 3 weeks, this need had increased from 12 to over 150.

The solution

During this time Reed recruited regular intakes of 12-24 people for the trust, often with as little as 5 days’ notice of when they were needed. It was important to meet the deadlines so that the new recruits could begin training the following week.

Given the importance of the role that the emergency call handlers were doing during the pandemic, exceptional levels of service and engagement were needed to meet this high-volume requirement. To do this, Reed:

  • Appointed an internal coordinator to act as a single point of governance and control, ensuring accurate data, feedback and overall performance of fulfilment levels
  • Used multiple communication channels to ensure continuous updates and engagement
  • Worked with their internal framework and compliance team to ensure that the government approved fast-track screening was complied with, implementing virtual registrations, meetings and digital passport pictures - all before the candidates' start date

The trust advised that they did not want to hire people based on their CVs but rather the person's ability to deal with stressful situations and meet the shift-based nature of the role.

The approach to advertising the vacancies was therefore to focus on personal skills, core values and willingness to learn. Through the focus on values, applicants felt passionately about applying for the vacancy, wanting to 'give back' to the NHS and help make a difference.

To attract the right number of candidates, Reed pushed out information about the role to their internal database, created online content to share on social media and used branded advertising on their website. All this activity helped Reed achieve significant reach, resulting in the job role being shared hundreds of times and attracting a diverse candidate pool.

The results

Reed supported the communication and coordination of training sessions for all new starters. Due to social distancing measures, the trust needed to hold multiple sessions in locations such as schools, hotels and function rooms.

To ensure a smooth onboarding journey, Reed designed an internal tracking system to capture:

  • Information relating to training and compliance progression
  • Candidate training schedules
  • Instances of self-isolation to support COVID secure environments and workforce planning

All 150 emergency call handler roles were successfully filled within the time parameters set. Many of the individuals placed had been furloughed or faced redundancy, providing a much-needed opportunity for those impacted by the pandemic.

Reed continues to support the trust with call handlers and other COVID related roles such as COVID testing coordinators (coordinating COVID testing and booking in vaccines) and COVID patient transportation (arranging patient transfer to and from appointments).

Marcus Bailey, Chief Operating Officer at East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust, commented:

“Reed reacted quickly and professionally, responding to out-of-hours calls and adapting to fulfil our requirements, whilst under the midst of lockdown restrictions. All 150+ roles were filled and all training was successfully completed. We have always had a good working relationship with Reed and continue to use their services for our temporary requirements.”

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