Previous Article Next Article Nursing bank plan will keep wards stocked with nursesOn 21 Nov 2000 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. A national “nursing bank”has been welcomed by healthcare HR managers as a way of saving money andimproving the quality of agency staff.Prime Minister Tony Blair hasunveiled plans for a nationally coordinated NHS nursing agency to help providenurses, midwives and health visitors for hospitals with staff shortages.The bank, to be called NHSProfessionals, will attract retired nurses and those who want to work moreflexibly to a central pool which will then be available to hospitals around thecountry.Many nurses have left the NHS orgone to work for private agencies because the pay is better and they can workmore flexible hours. The NHS spent £272m in 1998 on employing nurses fromagencies to work in the health service.Sally Storey, president of the Associationof Healthcare Human Resources Managers, said, “We welcome any move toboost staffing levels nationally. Many hospitals already run their own banks,which use nurses who want to work part-time or do overtime, and these help tokeep nurses within the NHS.”I would expect a nationalsystem to have an impact on costs, in that it would save the NHS paying foragency nurses, and also on quality of staff, as bank staff tend to have moreloyalty and commitment to the NHS.”Christine Hancock, general secretaryof the Royal College of Nursing, said, “The setting up of NHSProfessionals shows just how deep shortages are, but the new NHS agency shouldserve to drive up standards – good news for nurses and patients. “Nurses will welcome the opportunityto have more say over their working hours. But NHS trusts shouldn’t assume thislets them off the hook – they will need to provide flexible ways of working fortheir permanent staff to make sure they keep them.”At the chief nursing officer’s conferencein Brighton earlier this month, Blair said that if it was to retain and recruitstaff, the NHS had to be seen as a good employer. “Helping staff to managethe work-life balance is not just socially responsible, it is an economicnecessity,” he said.The first phase will be set up in15 areas, but will soon be rolled out to the rest of the country.By Paul DinsdaleLivingallowance ‘discriminatory’Nurses in London and the South Eastare to receive a £1,000 allowance to reflect higher accommodation and livingcosts.But the move has been attacked byunions representing health service workers for creating a two-tier system amongNHS employees.Prime Minister Tony Blair made theannouncement at the recent chief nursing officer’s conference in Brighton.But Paul Marks, Unison nationalsecretary for health, said, “This is a totally discriminatory pay awardwhich will hit the morale of health workers across the country. Local paytop-ups are not the way to tackle the national staffing crisis. The best way tomake working in the NHS attractive is to pay all staff a decent basic salary,not to rob one area of the country to pay for top-up allowances in another, andshift recruitment and retention difficulties from one place to another.”The Government is also understoodto be keen to agree pay awards with some key public sector professions such asnursing before Christmas to avert any damaging clashes with the professions. Related posts:No related photos.