Jobs guarantees for new nurses would cut agency spending – NHS England

But extent of nurse vacancies is tantamount to assured employment, says RCN

But extent of nurse vacancies is tantamount to assured employment, says RCN

The NHS England guidance aims to minimise spending on agency staff.
Picture: John Houlihan

All newly qualified nurses should be able to take up full-time NHS employment in the region where they trained, say new workforce planning requirements. 

In addition, employers should cooperate with each other to ensure all nurses can find NHS employment where they wish to work, reducing spending on agency staff.

The new advice is set out in NHS England's operational and planning guidance for 2019-20.

The government's newly published NHS Long Term Plan also says nursing graduates should receive five-year job guarantees in the geographical area where they trained. 

However, the RCN said providing newly qualified nurses with jobs is not the challenge because jobs are already freely available.

Vacancy levels mean finding a job is 'guaranteed'

RCN head of professional learning and development Anne Corrin said: 'With 41,000 nursing vacancies in England, trusts in many regions can already "guarantee" a job for local nursing students once they qualify. In fact they often have to look overseas or to agencies to fill vacancies. 

Anne Corrin, RCN head of professional
learning and development.
Picture: David Gee

'But agency spend is a symptom, not a cause of the workforce crisis.

'To truly reduce spend on agency staff the government must attract more people into nursing, and grow our domestic supply as part of a comprehensive workforce plan, underpinned by legislation guaranteeing safe levels of staffing.'

Goal of bank-first temporary staffing model

The document says plans should detail the steps employers will take during 2019-20 to move towards a ‘bank-first’ temporary staffing model and identify opportunities for improved productivity and workforce transformation through new roles or new ways of working.

'Unnecessary agency staffing spend should be eliminated – that being shifts procured at above agency price caps or off-framework, unless there is an exceptional patient safety reason to do so,' the guidance states.

Removing barriers

A Queen’s Nursing Institute spokesperson said: ‘As nursing shortages exist in all parts of the country, there should not be any difficulties in newly qualified nurses finding suitable employment in their preferred area.

‘However, employers wherever possible should cooperate to remove barriers to nurses taking up their first and subsequent positions, in community or hospital settings.

‘Regarding agency staffing, providers may find it difficult to eliminate all "unnecessary" spend – the nurse vacancy rate and shortages in certain specialisms and geographical areas will continue to pose major challenges to service providers.’

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