Posted On 04 Apr 2017
The Chief Executive of NHS Improvement (NHSI), Jim Mackey, wrote to all trust Chief Executives on 27th February 2017 outlining new rules to be brought in concerning the supply of agency staff to the NHS.
These new rules prevent trusts from engaging agency staff for additional shifts if they are already employed as permanent staff within the NHS.
The NHSI have confirmed that all staff will be covered by these new rules.
This will have a significant impact on the commercial viability of occupational health recruitment businesses in the healthcare sector although I would think Occupational health itself will not be dramatically affected as perhaps a normal Nursing Agency. Agencies will be required to implement this from 1 April, and combined with new IR35 changes, it is likely to have a detrimental impact on patients, agencies and clinicians.
BUT I wanted to blog about this as it does show the lengths that the NHS are going too to save money. I understand the need for the NHS to reduce spending on agency staff, but don’t believe that these measures are in the best interests of patients nor the ability to provide a safe level of staffing within hospitals. I do not believe that this measure will encourage staff back into permanent roles.
My governing body the REC has recently published a report in partnership with the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR), highlighting that disillusionment with permanent employment in the public sector is the main driver pushing health professionals into agency work. Agency workers cited better work-life balance, the ability to pick and choose when they worked and escaping stress, bureaucracy and office politics as factors in their decision to leave permanent public sector employment; for them, the flexibility of temporary work was a much bigger incentive than pay.
The NHS should be focussing on proper workforce planning, and retaining its staff by creating an environment with terms and conditions that make permanent roles more attractive.
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