An article in today’s Daily Mirror has raised the issue over the role of temporary staff in the NHS and within Government Departments. REC Healthcare has responded by highlighting the positive contribution that temporary and locum workers make and by underlining the benefits of flexible staffing arrangements.

In the article, Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham attacks the Department for Health for spending £3million on agency staff over the last three months. Although this is primarily focused on administration and civil servant roles, the REC has used this to re-emphasise the positive contribution that temporary workers make in both back-office and front-line roles.

Commenting on the issue of how agency staff contribute to the delivery of NHS services, Andrew Horner, Chair of REC Healthcare, says:

“Agency staff in the NHS play a pivotal role in delivering services to patients and in supporting the core workforce to ensure that workloads and stress levels are manageable.

“Using agencies to bring in the right staff for the right amount of is cost effective and is an intrinsic part of resourcing models within most large public and private sector organisations. Portraying agency spend as a waste is not only wide of the mark, it is also hugely disrespectful to the individual temporary workers who perform crucial front-line roles and make a significant contribution.

“Of course expenditure needs to be monitored and controlled but the vast majority of cost is on the pay given to staff for work that needs to be delivered. Cutting agency spend should not be an end in itself: the objective must be to develop cost-effective resourcing strategies that maintain and improve patient experience and the smooth running of public bodies. The flexible staffing arrangements provided through specialist recruitment agencies are part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

The REC will continue to take forward core messages on the need to focus on the benefits of agency work rather than just seeing as a cost to be cut through the ongoing Public Sector Resourcing campaign.