How to Start a Nursing Agency in the UK

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Nursing agencies in the UK supply trained nurses, midwives and, in some cases, health care assistants to a variety of health and social care settings. These settings will include the National Health Service and private care homes. Nursing agencies are usually run by a nurse, who may be the sole owner, or in partnership with another person. The main body regulating the operation of nursing agencies in the UK is the Care Quality Commission, and anyone thinking about starting up a nursing agency must visit its website.

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Register with the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which is the main regulatory body for health care and social workers in England. Nursing agencies are also regulated by the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Regulations 2003. Download an application form from the CQC website and complete it. Prepare a Statement of Purpose, which you must include in a staff handbook, which you must also prepare. Present your Statement of Purpose to the CQC or any interested party who wishes to see it.

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Familiarise yourself with the requirements under health and safety law and employment law. Prepare a contract of employment, with the help of a solicitor. Register your business for Value Added Tax (VAT) purposes. Compile a database of staff; this should include their CRB checks, qualifications and references. Give each member of your agency a staff handbook. Prepare and give out a service user's guide, which should include the contact details of CQC and a copy of the complaints' procedure.

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Prepare for an annual inspection by CQC by completing an online self-assessment form, called the Annual Quality Assurance Assessment (AQAA), having downloaded the form from the CQC website. Be prepared to complete and return this form within four weeks of notification. Ensure all your staff are of good character and that all trained staff are registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council, (NMC). Ensure that all your staff attend mandatory training sessions, for example on the Protection of Vulnerable Adults (POVA). These training sessions may be provided by local NHS Trusts, and you may be able to purchase it for your employees.

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