A SUCCESS NURSES CAN BANK ON Staffing body NHS Professionals offers nurses and other healthcare workers a chance to extend their careers When NHS Professionals (NHSP) was established in 2000, it changed recruitment in the health service almost overnight by offering trusts a cost-effective alternative to recruitment agencies for filling gaps in shift rosters at short notice. The organisation subsequently became a limited company wholly owned by the Department of Health. It operates a ‘managed flexible worker service’ covering trusts’ temporary recruitment needs.

Higher pay


NHSP has 35,000 nurses and healthcare assistants (HCAs) registered in its national bank, which services around 60 NHS trusts. Nurses working for NHSP say their experience of working for the organisation has helped their career progression, while also giving them improved pay rates. Stephanie Kirkham initially trained as a nurse, but since working for NHSP she has been able to move into midwifery.

‘I have worked a lot through NHS Professionals, starting as an HCA while I was a nursing student,’ she says. ‘I loved working in emergency care, having had a practice placement there. When I qualified I worked in A&E with NHS Professionals.’ After graduating with a midwifery degree last year, Ms Kirkham says NHSP allowed her to work extra shifts for her employers – Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust. Louise Kay, a registered nurse at the same trust, also worked for NHSP to earn money and gain experience when she was a nursing student. Ms Kay says: ‘I initially joined NHSP bank as

an HCA. Once I had completed my preceptorship with the trust, I joined NHSP substantively.’ Ms Kay and Ms Kirkham say working for NHSP gives them access to flexible work, and they praise its user-friendly website. Ms Kirkham says: ‘The flexibility is definitely one of the best benefits of working for NHSP. The website is easy to use because you can see all the shifts that are available and choose the ones you would like to work simply by clicking your name next to it.’ Stephanie Kirkham says NHSP makes booking shift work easy

NHS Professionals offers staff:  A convenient online booking system.  Sick pay and holiday pay.  Training.  A pension plan.  A newsletter.

Faith at work The Equality and Human Rights Commission has launched a call for evidence from individuals and organisations in England, Scotland and Wales about how their own or others’ religion or belief may have affected their experiences in the workplace and in using the services and facilities they need in everyday life. The evidence will be used to assess how employers and service providers are taking religion or belief into account and the impact this has on individuals. The submission deadline is October 13. www.equalityhumanrights.com/religion Seacole statue appeal The statue appeal has raised more than £350,000, with a further £96,000 now needed to reach the target of £450,000. The statue is to be

erected in the gardens of London’s St Thomas’ hospital in the summer of 2015. Follow the appeal on Facebook: www.facebook.com/SeacoleStatueAppeal; Twitter: @seacolestatue. Donations can be made online: www.justgiving.com/maryseacolememorial/donate. FGM guidance The Institute of Health Visiting has published guidance on the subject of female genital mutilation (FGM). This is aimed at informing and raising awareness among health visitors on how to help protect babies and children from harm. Supported by the Department of Health, the two new resources were written by Priscilla Dike, a senior midwifery lecturer at the University of Greenwich and an FGM expert. The guidance regards FGM as a safeguarding issue and offers practical

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RESOURCES NHS Professionals www.nhsprofessionals.nhs.uk In Touch newsletter tinyurl.com/NHSPIntouch The online NHSP service has an advantage over conventional bank arrangements, where it is difficult to book shifts out of hours, says Ms Kirkham. ‘Some in-house nurse bank offices only open during office hours. The NHSP website means that shifts can be booked right up to the last minute and you have more control over your work,’ she says. In the light of the Francis report and its call for improvements in NHS human resources standards, NHSP is working on its own recruitment standards, according to NHSP director of clinical governance and operations Anne O’Brien. Ms O’Brien, a former nurse, says: ‘Although NHSP has limited interaction with clinical commissioning groups, we do help client trusts with the restructuring of services and reconfiguring wards. When trusts merge their services, it invariably requires harmonisation of work policies, procedures and pay rates and we are able to support them through this’ NS Richard Wright is a freelance journalist

Nicky Sinden explains how her trust dealt with staffing gaps

Shrinking the agency bill NHS trusts have a long history of using agency nurses to maintain staffing levels and ensure patient safety. But some trusts’ increasing reliance on agencies to fill staffing gaps is coming at a heavy cost. At Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, demand for additional hours started to grow rapidly from around 3,000 shifts per month in April 2010 to 7,000 shifts per month in March 2012. In April 2012, spending on agency staff peaked at over £400,000, an unsustainable figure that prompted the trust to review options for managing the temporary workforce. We wanted to minimise the number of agencies we worked with, but we also needed to match the hours required in the wards with the number of staff we hired. Faced with a competitive local agency market, and a depleted supply of healthcare assistants (HCAs) locally, we decided to implement NHS Professionals’ care support worker development programme. The programme recruits HCAs who have previous nursing experience, usually gained in a care or nursing home environment. Candidates undergo five days of classroom training and a period of supervised practice. Successful trainees then undertake supervised work placements in the trust for six months, after which they are assessed against the required competency standards. The trust also worked with NHS Professionals to recruit appropriately qualified nurses from Portugal, where

advice about how to access FGM information and support services and organisations. tinyurl.com/IHVFGMguidance LGBT equality Stonewall is asking for feedback on how it can support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities to feel truly equal. The organisation believes there is more work to be done in advancing equalities for trans people. It will be holding roundtable meetings and conversations and wants to receive ideas. If you have comments phone 08000 502020. Dementia care An ‘ideas lab’ will run at the University of Stirling on October 23 with the aim of making a direct difference to the lives of people with dementia. This is a chance

Nicky Sinden (right) has reduced agency expenditure at her trust by using NHS Professionals

the four-year training programme is commensurate with UK nurse training. The Portuguese graduates showed excellent standards of care and command of the English language, and 42 nurses have been recruited since November 2012. With a nearly full complement of substantive and bank staff, agency costs are now under control. We have almost halved our agency spend in just over 18 months. In October, the total agency spend was £167,175, a significant reduction on the baseline £428,727. To prevent what the RCN has called a ‘hidden workforce crisis’ in the NHS, trusts must look at implementing initiatives that will reduce reliance on agencies. Not only will this save money, it will improve the quality, continuity and safety of patient care NS Nicky Sinden is lead nurse for workforce at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust

to be part of a stimulating discussion with leading figures from the world of dementia, including the Dementia Services Development Centre international advisory board. The centre wants to hear about ideas in advance of the lab event, as some people may be invited to present their ideas to the panel. dementia.stir.ac.uk/ideaslab-2014 Ebola outbreak The British Red Cross is recruiting nurses and doctors to help with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Clinical staff are required to work in Sierra Leone, including nurses experienced in acute care in a resource-poor setting, tropical medicine and working in infectious disease control or emergency care. Ideally, people would need to be available for an immediate assignment of four weeks. tinyurl.com/RedCrossEbolahelp

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A success nurses can bank on.

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