Temporary and agency staff should stop being made scapegoats for the financial crisis in the NHS, according to job agency body the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC).
Tom Hadley, director of external affairs at the REC, said there was a “dogmatic, anti-agency policy” at the heart of the Department of Health (DoH).
“This is frustrating, especially at a time when the private sector is being harnessed in other areas across the NHS,” he said. “There needs to be a bigger debate as temps should not be made scapegoats for the current financial situation.”
The DoH has repeatedly called on NHS trusts to reduce their spend on agency staff as a way of balancing the books. Last year, total spending on agency and temporary workers was £1.3bn – about 4.2% of the NHS pay bill.
“Temps are an intrinsic part of a good resourcing strategy and should not be seen as a pure cost burden. The assumption that you can cut the supply off without any impact on productivity is wrong,” Hadley said.
But Sian Thomas, deputy director of NHS Employers, which looks after pay and conditions in the NHS, said reducing agency costs was vital for the health service.
“It is very clear that the reason why trusts are in deficit is the use of agency staff. It needs to be better managed to take costs down,” she said.
The REC is meeting DoH officials this week to discuss the use of agency workers in the health service.
NHS to visit capita site
Officials from NHS Employers are to visit Capita’s HR shared-service centre in Belfast later this month.
Capita signed a £100m HR outsourcing deal with the BBC in February, which saw 100 new jobs created at its Belfast office. The NHS is looking at different shared-service models as it prepares to fund pilot projects across the health service.