In the world of healthcare, emergencies can strike at any moment, and it’s crucial to be prepared. One essential aspect of healthcare emergency preparedness is relief staffing

Healthcare facilities, from hospitals to nursing homes, need to have a plan in place to ensure that they can maintain their operations during times of crisis. For example, during the Covid-19 pandemic, relief staffing was very necessary. Especially because thousands of healthcare professionals were forced to leave their duties at the peak of the virus outbreak. 

This blog post will delve into the vital role relief staffing plays in healthcare emergency preparedness.


The Importance of Relief Staffing 

Relief staffing, also known as contingency staffing or supplemental staffing, involves having a pool of healthcare professionals who can step in during times of crisis.

These professionals are often temporary or part-time workers, including nurses, doctors, allied health professionals, and administrative staff. Here are some key reasons why relief staffing is crucial in healthcare emergency preparedness: 

Surge Capacity

Healthcare emergencies, whether caused by natural disasters, disease outbreaks, or other unforeseen events, can lead to a sudden surge in the number of patients needing care. Relief staffing helps healthcare facilities meet the increased demand for medical services without overburdening their regular staff. 


Relief staff provides flexibility to adjust staffing levels according to the changing needs of the healthcare facility. This adaptability is essential in emergency situations where patient loads can be unpredictable.

Continuity of Care

Even in emergencies, patients require consistent and high-quality care. Relief staff members are often experienced professionals who can seamlessly step into the role, ensuring that patient care is not compromised. 

Staff Fatigue Mitigation

During extended healthcare emergencies, regular staff may become fatigued from long hours and high-stress levels. Relief staff can help alleviate the burden on the core team, preventing burnout and ensuring that quality care is maintained.


Planning for Relief Staffing in Healthcare Emergencies

 Effective healthcare emergency preparedness involves proactive planning for relief staffing. Here are some steps to consider when developing one:


Identify Critical Roles

Determine which roles within your healthcare facility are most critical for patient care and continuity of operations. These roles should be the focus of your relief staffing plan.

Establish a Pool of Relief Staff

Build a network of relief staff through recruitment agencies, such as BHC Agency, part-time employees, and retired healthcare professionals who are willing to step in during emergencies. Ensure that they are properly credentialed and trained.

Cross-Train Relief Staff

Cross-training relief staff on your facility’s policies, procedures, and electronic health records is essential to ensure they can seamlessly integrate into your team when needed.


Establish clear lines of communication with relief staff and ensure they are informed about your facility’s emergency protocols and how they can be activated.

Relief Staffing Emergency Drills

Regularly conduct emergency drills that include relief staff to assess their readiness and identify areas for improvement.


Keep detailed records of relief staff contact information, credentials, and availability, so you can quickly mobilise them during emergencies.




Healthcare emergencies are inevitable, but with a well-thought-out relief staffing plan, healthcare facilities can ensure that they continue to provide quality care to their patients during these challenging times.  

Having backup staff is not just about filling in gaps. It’s about preserving the continuity of care, alleviating staff fatigue, and ultimately saving lives. By preparing for healthcare emergencies, healthcare facilities can be better equipped to face whatever challenges come their way. 

If you think this is the time to prepare your facility for emergencies, contact us now. BHC Agency is ready to provide relief staffing solutions customised to each company’s needs. Chat with us to learn more.