Agency worker crackdown 'could harm NHS patient safety'

Medical Government/ NHS related news

The government's efforts to reduce the NHS' reliance on agency workers may be having an adverse impact on patient safety, according to a recruitment organisation.

A survey from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) has indicated that 73 percent of healthcare recruiters say restrictions on NHS spending for agency staff have made it more difficult to find doctors and nurses willing to fill temporary vacancies.

“The Recruitment and Employment Confederation has warned that the government's crackdown on agency workers in the NHS could harm patient safety.“

As such, eight in ten agencies are only able to fill up to half the requests they receive from NHS trusts, despite demand for these workers being as strong as ever.

This comes as the government continues to ramp up its efforts to minimise NHS usage of agency staffing services, which it believes do not offer value for money. Further spending restrictions will come into effect on February 1st.

However, the REC has pointed out that the NHS remains highly reliant on these workers, especially at times such as public holidays, and that putting these caps in place will harm patient safety standards.

REC chief executive Kevin Green said: "We already have a situation where recruiters can't meet the level of demand from NHS trusts. Ultimately, it is patients that will suffer if doctors and nurses aren't available to fill those vacancies."

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