NHS Professionals’ National Trends report indicates a changing pattern in shift demand.

Information from NHS Professionals’ quarterly report National Trends shows bank shift demand in England fell steadily from 2009 to June 2011, with requests down by 7.3% year on year in Acute Trusts and 13.9% in mental health trusts.

However, against this trend, there has been a recent sharp increase in demand in Acute Trusts across the country, with the exception of London. According to the report, meeting rising demand for temporary workers in these NHS Trusts, without resorting to expensive agencies, requires an innovative approach to temporary workforce management.

The number of short-notice shift requests in Non-Foundation, Non-Teaching Acute Trusts has also grown by 4.3% in the last 12 months, despite falling in all other Trust types, with a significant increase in demand observed from July onwards.

Across the NHS there is a shortage of bank staff available to work shifts at the last minute. Expensive agencies continue to exploit opportunities to place workers in these shifts. An increase in agency use was observed in Acute Trusts, up 4.1% as a proportion of total fill over the whole year and rising sharply between June and September.

Stephen Dangerfield, Chief Executive of NHS Professionals says: “Until recently, we have observed a year on year downward trend in shift demand but data from the last quarter show a significant reversal, particularly in Acute Trusts. It’s clear that with Trusts focusing on efficiency, short-notice shift demand is increasingly a fact of life. We are working with NHS Trusts to understand the impact of their recent changes in demand and be increasingly responsive to shifts released on the day.
NHS Professionals is currently piloting two novel approaches to address increasing demand. These pilots are specifically designed to deal with both short-notice demand and for clinicians with specialist skills, who are always in demand. We expect these pilots to improve effectiveness and responsiveness of the managed services platform and offer an enhanced service for Trusts.”