Badenoch & Clark | Q3 Market Insight: NHS blog

  • Tracey Sherring
  • 10/12/2015
  • 12:00
  • Adecco Group

Report: NHS needs agency staff to deal with the winter rush.

Opposition political parties, patient groups and unions are once again raising concerns about crises facing the NHS. Whether dire warnings on hospital space, A&E waiting times, or proposed strike action really will turn from rhetoric to reality is debateable, but one thing is clear: the 1.3m strong NHS cannot survive without agency staff. Below we discuss our Q3 Market Insight report and outline why this winter, the presence of agency staff is more important than ever.

NHS leaders are, once again, in the eye of the storm. The winter brings with it a whole host of health problems to the nation, putting pressure on hospitals, staff and, in-turn, the NHS as a whole. Critics are asking, will the NHS have the staff it needs to get the nation through this winter?

And it’s a good question. Much like people are not immune to the winds of winter, the NHS is not immune to the rules of supply and demand. Summer levels of staffing for the NHS will not suffice, and NHS organisations have no choice but to bring in extra staff.

It is this capacity crisis – along with the ever present burden of efficiency and quality improvements – that means that NHS organisations have to look to agency staff if they are to seamlessly continue to provide high-quality services when the need for them increases. By being able to place key talent in vital areas, recruitment agencies can do their part in ensuring the NHS is sufficiently staffed in the coming months.

However, on 23 November 2015, new rules came into force, capping the amount of money that is spent on agency staff to 55% more for a shift than a permanent member of staff. The logic behind the move is to deal with spiralling NHS costs and efficiency issues, yet all the same the it could seriously damage NHS organisations’ ability to keep their high-quality operations running over the winter.

Moreover, capping pay will do little to address the unavoidable surge in hospital admissions over the winter and may, instead, lead to a drop in quality care.

As we approach the long and difficult winter period, where NHS staff become even more important, the demand will still be there, and restricting access to skilled workers is a very dangerous game indeed.