A Guide to Agency Nursing in the UK

The NHS, as an institution, is one of the largest employers in the UK, if not the World, with responsibility for a large budget totalling billions of pounds. Most nurses in the United Kingdom are either working for or have worked for the NHS in the past 5 years.

Employer/Employee relations within the NHS are generally neutral with many nurses considering themselves to be underpaid for the work that they do. This pushes nurses towards Nursing Agencies to top up their salaries, forcing Trusts to pay higher salaries to cover absence and sickness.

Nurses do have choice when it comes to doing extra hours:-

Join the local Trusts Nurse Bank – This is convenient to most nurses as they are more in control of the work that they can get. However nurse banks generally offer low rates of pay and don’t have the required infrastructure to be effective in the placement of nurses. Nurses tend to be a number on a Data base.

Join a Nursing Agency – this gives nurses the opportunity to experience different working environments and at the same time benefiting from much higher rates of pay. Some agencies will pay for one 10 hour shift the same as nurse banks pay for a 20 hour shift. There is no guarantee that you will get the work that you are looking for but when you do you will get paid quickly for the work you do.

Do neither of the above – This of course is a loss to the NHS. Nurses that choose this option will generally only be tempted to do extra work with the offer of good hourly pay rates.
Nursing Agencies in the UK fall into two clear groups:-

They are signed up to the NHS National Framework Agreement – These agencies have agreed contractual terms with the NHS to provide nurses at a fixed rate of pay. This rate of pay has been known to be lower than the NHS’s own agency, NHS Professionals and some of the local Nurse Banks. This has neutralised the benefits of this contract and has forced a number of agencies to withdraw from the Framework Agreement. Agencies signed up to this agreement need to be operating a scaled up business which has the effect of increasing costs but without realising the profits from the NHS. A number of high profile agencies have called in receivers as the money owed to them by the NHS had not been paid forcing their Bankers to call in the invoices.

Nursing Agencies operating outside of the NHS Framework – These agencies tend to work more in the private sector or on more specialised placements in the NHS such as ITU, Paediatrics, CCU, HDU, Theatre. Recovery, Renal Dialysis, Mental Health, Occupational Health and Practice Nursing. They tend to have a broader mix of placements available at higher rates of pay.
For further information on Agency work available in the UK please go to www.team24.co.uk or call 0871 288 2424.