She went on to say that “Agency staff are a cost effective way of responding to local fluctuations in demand for healthcare. They can be brought in to deal with peaks in demand — during a flu epidemic, for example — and then dispensed with when their services are no longer needed. Agency staff do not incur hidden costs such as NHS employers’ pension contribution The current NHS pensions liability stands at almost £300bn and there have been many calls for its reform. Any reform that increases the flexibility and responsiveness of the NHS procurement is to be welcomed. Measures that encourage healthy competition from any willing provider and reward successful outcomes are also good. Transforming the way NHS workforce operates is vital to achieving these aims.”
NHS Reform Plans
Earlier in the week the Coalition Government put forward proposals for legislation that will see, among other things:
- All 10 Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) abolished
- All 152 Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) abolished
- General Practitioners (GPs) given responsibility for managing hospital, mental health & community services
- Patients given more performance related information by a new body called HealthWatch
- Patients given control of their Medical Records
- All NHS Trusts achieve Foundation Status by 2013
The abolition of Strategic Health Authorities and Primary Care Trusts will affect more than 60,000 managers and in their place hundreds of GP consortiums will be created and given the responsibility for much of the £105bn health budget. The bottom up rather than top down reorganisation has been called ‘the most radical change in NHS history’.
The reforms are seen by many as an opportunity to revolutionise working practices within the National Health Service (NHS) and make the organisation (the largest in Europe and reportedly the third largest in the world) a modern, efficient body well equipped to meet 21st century needs. However, flexible working practises may be hindered by European Union employment legislation due to be introduced in October of this year in the form of the Agency Worker Regulations (AWR).
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