NIESR: Staffing crisis pushes NHS staff into agency working, new report reveal
Following recent revelations in the national press about the cost of agency working to the NHS, new NIESR research looks at the reasons why public sector employers continue to use agency staff, and conversely why employees continue to choose to work via agencies.
The report, commissioned by the Office of Manpower Economics, offers the most comprehensive analysis of agency working in the UK public sector to date, focusing particularly on the NHS and public sector schools.
The research shows that:
- Pay is not a primary source of motivation for leaving full-time employment. Rather, a move to agency working seems to stem from a desire to escape permanent public sector employment, amidst concerns about increased bureaucracy, target setting, insufficient resources, unmanageable workloads and a lack of work-life balance.
- Our research would therefore suggest NHS and public sector school staff are ‘pushed’ into agency working through concerns of deteriorating job quality, rather than ‘pulled’ by opportunities of higher rates of pay.
- From the perspective of public sector employers, our research indicates that agency usage will continue to persist in the current context of demand outstripping supply. Public sector employers recognise the concerns around monetary costs and the potential impact on the quality of services, but find themselves using agency staff as a last resort in response to underlining staffing issues.
- More specifically, our research identifies that although the ‘agency rules’ – the flagship programme to reduce NHS reliance on agency staff – has succeeded in reducing overall agency spending, it has failed to address underlying issues around staffing and concerns of deteriorating job quality.
Report co-author, NIESR researcher Nathan Hudson-Sharp, said:
“Current rules around agency spending in the NHS seem to only address the symptoms of the problem. What they fail to do is tackle the underlining issue of demand continuing to outstrip supply. The future of agency working in the NHS would therefore seem to rest on implementing an approach that is much more comprehensive, and that would enable NHS employers to address underlining issues around staff shortages, training, workforce planning, recruitment and retention.”
The Report is entitled “Use of Agency Workers in the Public Sector” and is available here.
The OME provides the secretariat to the public sector pay review bodies and has an interest in the costs of agency working to the public sector, in particular education and health.
For further queries or to arrange an interview with the authors of the report, please contact the NIESR Press Office: Luca Pieri on 020 7654 1931 / firstname.lastname@example.org
NIESR aims to promote, through quantitative and qualitative research, a deeper understanding of the interaction of economic and social forces that affect people's lives, and the ways in which policies can improve them.
Latest News from
IFG - Ministers are undermining their own efforts to increase private investment in infrastructure18/01/2018 09:35:00
Ministers are hampering progress towards their own objective of increasing private investment in UK infrastructure at a good price, a new report finds.
NIESR: Head of UK Macroeconomic Forecasting reacts to the latest CPI inflation data17/01/2018 12:05:00
NIESR’s Head of UK macroeconomic forecasting, Amit Kara said: “CPI inflation eased to 3.0 per cent over the 12 month period to December from 3.1 per cent in November. We think that inflation has now peaked and will gradually drop back towards the 2% target, provided that monetary policy is set appropriately.
JRF - Problem debts: Households in poverty face a difficult 201816/01/2018 14:35:00
Helen Barnard, Head of Analysis at the independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation, responded to the IFS report on problem debt and low-income households
IPPR - Carbon budgets should be devolved so regions can lead UK in realising economic benefits of decarbonisation16/01/2018 13:35:00
IPPR sets out a plan for empowering regions to deliver a national decarbonisation ‘mission’
IFS - Most household debt looks manageable – but a quarter of very low-income households have high debt repayments or are behind on bills or repayments16/01/2018 12:35:00
The size of overall unsecured household debt tells us little about how much ‘problem debt’ there is. Over 60% of unsecured debt is held by households with above-average incomes, and more than half of households with unsecured debts have more than enough financial assets to pay them off.