REC responds to DoH guidance to NHS Managers over Recruitment

The Recruitment and Employment Confederations (RECs) Tom Hadley said that “We fully agree that a mix of substantive and temporary staff is the best way of delivering high-quality and cost-effective care to patients. It is crucial to recognise the importance of flexible staffing arrangements and there is no doubt that agency workers make a huge contribution to the delivery of front line services. The concern is that reduction of agency spend is still seen as an end in itself’.

‘The end-goal must surely be to develop cost-effective resourcing models – ultimately, this could result in more flexible staff rather than less. The development of a national strategy for temporary staffing within the NHS should not start with the blinkered view that agency staff is an unnecessary cost that should be systematically cut. Of course, costs must be managed. However, they must also be weighed against the cost of employing more permanent staff on full pensions and entitlements or having internal NHS staff replicate the work of specialised agencies in sourcing, vetting and placing suitably skilled temporary workers.’

‘The assumption that it is automatically cheaper to run an in-house bank rather than using an external provider has been widely discredited. The other assumption is that temporary staff create an inherent safety risk. This is not the case if the temporary workforce is properly managed. In fact, previous data has shown that more agency staff have the proper CRB clearance than those in substantive posts within the NHS. A modern and efficient healthcare service must make effective use of flexible staffing. There is real benefit to be gained by looking at how this is managed and how the contribution of temporary and locum staff can be maximised. This cannot be all about slashing costs and driving down agency fees.’

‘Cutting specialised external providers out of the picture would not only cost jobs at a time when the private sector is being relied on to create employment opportunities, but would also jeopardise an effective and proven way of getting the right skills at the right time to the NHS ‘s frontline.\”

The Department of Health recently gave manager a guide titled ‘\”Flexible workforce: strategic planning to reduce costs and improve quality\” which helps NHS managers to ‘make the most efficient use of temporary staff, reduce agency costs and ensure that there is a supply of staff with flexible skills available to provide the highest levels of care for patients’.

The Director General of workforce at the Department of Health, Clare Chapman, said that \”We are in the process of a culture change within the NHS, where the provision of well-trained temporary staff, delivering high-quality levels of care, at reduced costs, has become a financial imperative. High levels of agency expenditure in the NHS are not acceptable, from a cost and a quality of patient care perspective.\”

Gill Bellord, Director of core services at NHS Employers went on to say that \”A key challenge is to develop the skills of organisations in planning their workforce to ensure they supply a high-quality staff best suited to the needs of patient care\”.

Industry leaders says UK is still in need of highly skilled Healthcare Professionals

Kate Bleasdale, the Executive Vice Chairman of Healthcare Locums (HCL) said that “There is still plenty of scope for the recruitment of overseas healthcare staff into the UK, as shortage occupations will continue to be privileged. The UK is in dire need of many highly skilled professionals such as specialist nurses and midwives, radiographers, physiotherapists, qualified social workers and doctors of all grades and specialties. We are now in a global market for healthcare staff, and demand and supply dynamics strongly suggest that we will continue to see healthy movement of health and social care professionals, both into and out of the UK and all over the globe.”

Following up on the comments, which were publised by the Recruiter, John Faraguna, Managing Director of Hays Health and Social Care said “It isn’t realistic to cut the supply of skilled workers into the UK without seeing an adverse impact on our ability to deliver frontline services. In our dealings with employers it is already very apparent that there is a shortage of workers with the necessary skills. Doctors, nurses and specialists, such as radiologists and anaesthetists, are all needed to work in the NHS. The increasing pressure on frontline services due to an ageing population only exacerbates the problem. Training provision and incentives to pursue shortage professions are longer-term solutions, which should be developed in tandem. In the meantime, we are faced with a workforce that is more transient, there is greater pressure on services, and we need to attract and retain the best talent to support our economy – not cut a valuable source of skills. Skilled healthcare workers move globally and the UK’s loss will be other countries’ gain.”

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