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NHS Staff set to be banned from ‘extra’ Agency Work

Sarah J

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NHS trusts will soon be prevented from engaging agency staff for additional shifts if they are already employed as substantive staff within the NHS elsewhere.

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According to the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) Jim Mackey, Chief Executive of NHS Improvement, wrote to all trust Chief Executives on 27th February 2017 outlining the new rules to be brought in concerning the supply of agency staff to the NHS from the 1st of April 2017 (1).

While no information about the changes have been released publicly some trusts have started contacting employees advising them of the changes.

NHS Staff are using agency work as a way of supplementing their income through this period of ongoing pay restraint.

The news comes only months after the announcement that NHS Professionals is seeking “private” investment.

NHSI have confirmed to REC that all staff will be covered by these new rules, including medical locums and agency nurses.

This letter, leaked from the Ipswich Hospital NHS Trusts, outlines the proposed changes coming into effect on the 1st of April 2017.

The step has been heavily criticised as another way of alienating agency nurses following the changed to IR35 rules which come into force on the same day.

The new rules will not prevent NHS staff from undertaking agency work with private organisations, working overtime or working for a trusts internal bank. NHS Professionals is also unlikely to be effected. 

An RCN spokesperson, said: “We do not support this agency cap and we were not consulted. We support the right of our members to work in whatever way is best for them and their families.

“They added: “There is no obligation on nurses to join a hospital bank. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that shifts are filled. It is not right that nurses should work for less than they are worth.

“We will be taking this matter up further with NHS Improvement and the Department of Health.”

We have approached The Department of Health, and NHSI.

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RCN members deliver #ScrapTheCap petition to Downing Street

Ian Snug

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Frontline nursing staff today handed a petition of 67,000 names to Downing Street, urging the Government to scrap the cap on public sector pay.

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RCN members – representing every country of the UK – led the Summer of Protest campaign in their local communities.

Michael Coram (London), Kayleigh Peel (West Midlands), Jane Leighton (Northern Ireland), Julie Lambeth (Scotland) and Jean Richards (Wales) are RCN Pay Champions and spent the summer promoting the Scrap the Cap campaign, distributing campaign materials and organising events at hospitals and in public spaces.

The petition’s signatures were collected on 67,000 postcards, which were completed during the Summer of Protest, at events held in towns and cities. If stacked end-to-end the postcards would reach more than one and a half times the height of Mount Everest. The petition was accompanied by a letter from Michael Brown, Chair of RCN Council.

The campaign saw thousands of nurses join together to protest against the 1% pay cap, which has caused nursing pay to fall by 14% in real-terms since 2010, leaving them £3,000 a year worse off.

It highlighted that low pay has stood in the way of attracting enough staff to provide safe patient care. With 40,000 nursing vacancies in England alone and more nurses leaving than joining the profession, it is vital the Government ends the pay cap to prevent the nursing workforce from shrinking even further.

Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said:

“Nurses from all corners of the UK have shown the Government that they are a force to be reckoned with. Throughout the summer they campaigned tirelessly to end the cap which has cut their pay year-on-year.

“Our members in front of the famous door today and everybody across the UK should be proud of their achievements. The Government has listened to them and has categorically said they are scrapping the pay cap.

“This petition shows huge levels of public support for nurses, who work so hard to provide care for patients in the midst of a staffing crisis and increasing pressures in the NHS.

“Their next pay offer must not come in below inflation and Ministers must not ask the NHS to make other cuts to pay for it.”

After mounting pressure from the RCN, the public, other trade unions and MPs, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, announced in the House of Commons on October 10 that the pay cap will be scrapped.

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RCN warns of a “dangerous blind-spot” in dealing with assaults on NHS staff

Sarah J

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The Government has confirmed they will no longer collect information when NHS staff are assaulted.

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Health ministers will no longer collect information on NHS staff
assaults, the Government confirmed for the first time on the eve of a
Commons debate. A decision stands in contrast to the Home Office, which monitors assaults on police officers.

The Royal College of Nursing has warned that the move leaves the Government blind to the scale of the problem and risks a further deterioration.

The news comes only a week after Unison said it had concerned that cuts to mental health service were leaving staff vulnerable to violence and aggression.

MPs will today debate a Private Member’s Bill to strengthen the
law against people who assault emergency workers.

The Department of Health confirmed that the NHS and Government will not
continue to collect assaults figures – previously gathered and released
by NHS Protect. Ministers scrapped the body in the current fiscal
year without detailing where responsibility will fall.

The legislation will double the maximum sentence for common assault from
six months to a year if committed against an emergency worker while on
duty.

Last year, a survey of RCN members found more than half had
experienced physical or verbal abuse from patients and a further 63%
from patients’ relatives or other members of the public.

Final figures from NHS Protect showed a 4% rise in physical assaults
against healthcare workers in England from 67,864 in 2014/15 to 70,555
in 2015/16.

Figures from NHS Protect show that only 10 per cent of physical
assaults, unrelated to a medical condition such as a mental health
problem or dementia, result in criminal sanctions.

Kim Sunley, RCN Senior Employment Relations Advisor, said;

“This creates a dangerous blind spot for ministers hoping to tackle the increasing number of assaults in the NHS. It is totally inadequate to rely on optional surveys, especially if the law is being tightened.

“The official body, before it was disbanded, warned Ministers the level of assaults was rising. It should not have been removed and the Government must take their role more seriously.

“This bill represents a vital step towards achieving that, but without the ability to fully monitor the figures, it will be difficult to
quantify the scale of the problem, or the effectiveness of any new law.”

NICE estimated in 2015 that attacks on staff cost the NHS £69 million a
year through absence, loss of productivity and additional security –
equal to the cost of employing about 1,800 nurses.

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