NHS managers more than most, are subject to the travails of the law of the unintended consequence, and never more so than in the matter of workforce management.
Following the recent proposal by Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority (TDA) to introduce caps on the hourly rates paid to agency staff, which is due to be implemented this month, Aldwych Partners commissioned ZPB Associates to undertake research to understand how agency staff would respond to the proposed rate cap.
We developed three online surveys that went out to over 17,000 nurses, doctors and Allied Health Professionals (AHPs), with 1,960 nurses, 675 doctors and 978 AHPs responding to the survey.
The report makes for disquieting reading.
45% of the nurses and 39% of locum doctors were already NHS employees working extra shifts to increase their take home pay. Any hopes of a return by agency staff to the NHS may be in vain.
54% of agency nurses, 53% of AHPs, and 74% of locum doctors, said they would work fewer shifts, or pursue work outside the NHS. This could increase the total number of shifts lost to the NHS as a result of the cap, by 40% for nurses, and 80% for doctors.
Interestingly the letter sent by Monitor and the TDA to NHS trust chief executives announcing the new measures, states there will be a ‘break glass’ provision for trusts that need to override the caps on exceptional safety grounds.
Standby with your broom and dustpan!