Cuts to the NHS workforce present an opportunity for healthcare recruitment agencies to provide a flexible staffing solution, according to recruiters.
New data from the NHS Information Centre reveals that the NHS has already begun cutting jobs. Headcount was at 1,216,149 in April 2010, 0.3% less than March (1,219,500) but 11,559 (1%) more than in September 2009 (1,204,590).
Kate Bleasdale, executive vice chairman of Healthcare Locums, told Recruiter: “The NHS needs to find up to £20bn worth of savings in the next five years so it is inevitable that the workforce will feel the squeeze. But this is actually a great opportunity for healthcare recruiters.
“In previous cycles the NHS has responded to spending squeezes by freezing permanent recruitment and making greater use of locum doctors, nurses and allied health professionals to respond to fluctuations in demand. Since agency staff incur only upfront costs for the hours they work and don’t receive public sector rates of pension provision, annual leave and sick leave, they are economically viable as the public sector is pruned back. And locums are even more integral to the NHS infrastructure than ever, as we have a growing and ageing population which needs more frequent and acute care.”
Richard MacMillan, chief executive at healthcare staffing provider PULSE, adds: “Many of the Trusts we work with realise that a knee jerk approach to staff cuts will severely hamper the delivery of front-line services. There seems to be a growing recognition among Trusts that use of flexible staff has to be part of the solution rather than a problem to fix.
“Flexible staffing arrangements not only reduce costs but also enable organisations to increase productivity by better matching resources to changing demand. As the NHS faces up to the reality of finding up to £20 billion of savings by 2014 this cannot be ignored.”