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Reasons to use Agency Staff

It is no secret that the healthcare sector is struggling with staff shortages. The Healthcare sector is a difficult place to work, especially within the NHS. There are thousands of Nurses and Healthcare Assistants (HCAs) vacancies out there. For example, between January and March 2022 data suggests there were over 105,000 vacancies in the NHS (The Nuffield Trust). In June 2022 there were over 132,000 vacancies across England alone with Registered Nurses being 46,828 of that total (NHS Funding Info). With staff shortages, hospitals and care homes need to look to agency staff to fill these staff shortages. In this article, we will look more in-depth at the reasons why hospitals and care homes use agency staff.

Why are there staff shortages?

We are currently experiencing one of the highest staff shortages in the healthcare sector in history. The reason for staff shortages is due to the high turnover of staff that is taking place and these people are leaving due to having to work long shifts with little breaks causing exhaustion, burnt out and depression; low pay which means they cannot feed and clothe their families, and generally poor conditions. External factors like Brexit and the lack of UK Government planning also contribute to staff leaving. All of the above problems were still relevant pre-pandemic, so with the Covid Pandemic and now the cost of living crisis, the pressure and difficulty to retain staff have both increased. A lot of healthcare staff are having to work multiple jobs and rely on food banks.

What do staff shortages mean to hospitals and care homes?

With staff being off due to being off sick or leaving completely, care homes, for example, have to work out how many Nurses and HCAs they require to support the number of residents in the care home. Being understaffed and not finding staff to cover these shifts means that residents will have inadequate care and support. Residents are more likely to be left on their own for longer, potentially leaving bed later or getting washed later than normal. In a worst-case scenario, being understaffed could lead to residents having more potential to have an accident and be hurt. Therefore agency staff can come in to fill in shifts and make sure that the required amount of care is available for residents or patients.

The benefits of using Agency Staff

There is a range of benefits for using agency staff including:

  • High-Quality staff - Agency staff are highly trained, high-quality staff who fill shifts across a large area. Agency staff need to be kept compliant to work for the agencies and to maintain the standard of care so there is a guarantee that the agency staff have the knowledge and skills required to fill any required shifts.

  • Can be booked last minute - Due to the amount of healthcare staff being off sick or leaving, staff shortages can happen at any point, and often at short notice. It is important that care homes and hospitals can fill shifts that same day. Luckily agencies are able to provide staff to fill in last-minute shifts quite easily.

  • It’s quick and easy - Opposed to phoning up all of your own staff to find out if anyone can fill in the shift, you can simply phone up a healthcare agency and they will do all the hard work of finding the staff suitable for filling in the shift you need to be filled.

  • Only pay for what you need - Agency staff are not employed by the care home or hospital so therefore there is no need to worry about having to regularly pay them. Managers only need to pay for the amount of time the agency staff are required so there is no need to worry about having too many Nurses or Carers on one shift, but also means you won’t ever be caught short.

  • Future planning - To help maintain staff, it is important that they take well-deserved time off. Instead of worrying about being short-staffed when full-time staff are on holiday, managers can book agency staff for a block of time in advance.

If you’re in need of any agency staff to cover your shifts, our phone lines are open 24 hours a day at 0845 643 2610 or contact us via our website here.

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