The Director of Policy and Professional Services at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, Tom Hadley, said that “The lack of available midwives demonstrates the extent of the staffing challenge facing the National Health Service as well as other public sector employers. The squeeze on public expenditure will inevitably impact on the workforce but we must avoid knee-jerk cuts that not only impact on patient care but also place unsustainable pressure on remaining staff. One solution is to make more use of flexible staffing arrangements such as temporary and locum staff in order to meet peaks in demand and provide essential cover in emergency situations such as complicated births. Rather than seeing agency costs as one of the first budget lines to be slashed, NHS Trusts and other public bodies must recognise the importance of being able to call upon suitably qualified and properly vetted flexible staff. The recent report also underlines the need for strict guidelines – for example, in terms of number of workers per bed – in order to provide some objective measurement that adequate staffing levels are being met. In 2011, the public sector will see the real impact of 2010’s budget cuts – it is crucial that staffing costs are not seen as an easy way to balance the books with no regard to the impact on front line services.”
NHS Bosses Back Pay Freeze
Recently 12 National Health Service (NHS) bosses send a letter to the British press backing plans by the organisation NHS Employers to freeze pay for two years in return for a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies above Agenda for Change Band 6 (salaries of £34,189 or above). NHS Employers propose to bring in the changes by creating a new National Framework Agreement (NFA) which, once agreed locally, would allow the National Health Service to freeze wages.
The letter said that “Although the National Health Service has been offered significant protection of funding in the most recent spending round, rising costs and increasing demand for patient care make the next two years a huge challenge and we expect to have to make efficiency savings of well over 5 per cent per year. We are looking at all areas of expenditure to find savings, but salaries represent 60 to 70 per cent of our costs so we need to explore measures to contain the pay bill. NHS Employers’ proposal represents a practical way forward, which maintains the integrity of the nationally agreed pay systems. We believe that this is a fair deal and one that can be delivered. It is not only desirable as a way of dealing with financial pressures, it is essential in order to be able to protect employment and staffing levels”.
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