Why the NHS needs to employ more permanent doctors
The NHS are currently facing a staffing crisis and consequently, they rely on expensive agency locum staff, spending 25 times as much on temporary staff than permanent staff. This trend is incomprehensible as the NHS is also experiencing severe government funding cuts. This year, on average, the UK’s healthcare system will spend over £3 billion on agency locum staff, funds that could be spent on more important Trust areas such as; the recruitment of permanent staff, medical research, patient care, drugs, equipment and increasing facility size.
The inexplicably high fees paid by NHS Trusts needs to change to allow all Trusts to offer excellent continuity of care to all patients. In this article, we highlight the three focal reasons for the NHS to start employing more permanent staff over costly long-term agency locums: cost-effectiveness; staff retention; and reduced conflict.
Reasons to use International Permanent Doctors
It is reported that 1 in 30 agency locum doctors earn £120 an hour, which is clearly not a sustainable method of recruitment. The most common reason for using an agency locum is simply a vacant post, other reasons include sickness, maternity, and paternity leave. However, each NHS Trust is spending nearly 25 times as much on long-term agency fees as they do on permanent positions. This amounts to paying some locum consultants £375k a year compared to a permanent senior consultant receiving just £76-102k a year. This large income disparity means that a locum consultant will often get paid 114% more than a permanent consultant, even though they are performing the same job role (albeit with reduced management responsibilities).
Furthermore, although agency locum staff are hired with the aim to fill a temporary gap of employment, such as a consultant’s maternity leave – often agency locum’s can stay in a post at a hospital for several years. This is very problematic because the locum will continue to renew his contract every couple of months, and not agree to become a permanent staff member.
Therefore, the obvious solution to end this significant expenditure on temporary staff is to invest in permanent staff who will only cost the Trust a one-off fee when their contract is signed. Here at BDI Resourcing, our goal is to provide the NHS with sustainable staffing solutions by providing permanent international doctors, and on average our services cost less than 10% of the cost of employing an agency locum over a 12-month period.
Having staff who are fully trained and equipped with the appropriate knowledge and skills to perform their job efficiently is essential for a successful organisation, however, within the healthcare sector, it is especially important that this is the case. Training a permanent doctor will not only benefit your hospital financially, but it will also give doctors further confidence, resulting in better continuity of service to all patients and job satisfaction (ultimately increasing staff retention).
2.1 Empowerment and Confidence: If employees feel confident in their knowledge, skills, and training they will feel more self-assured about the job overall. Therefore, they will be more likely to take on new challenges and responsibilities within the hospital.
2.2 Continuity of Care: Research conducted by the NHS staff survey found clear and strong associations between staff abilities and how satisfied patients are. This means that a more confident and comfortable permanent doctor, over an agency locum doctor who may never have worked in the hospital before, will give a better continuity of care to patients.
2.3 Retention of Staff and Happier Working Environment: Doctors who receive training and are given the opportunity for educational development from their employer are more likely to feel satisfied with their job. In turn, this will lead to an increase in staff retention, which will benefit the whole organisation. Furthermore, having a fully-staffed department will lead to less sick days, less pressure on staff and overall a happier working environment!
There are of course many benefits of an increase in staff retention and because you will no longer have to pay expensive long-term agency locum fees, you can instead use the money on investing in patients and employees. Second, is loyalty. Longstanding members of staff are inevitably more loyal than temporary staff. They will believe in the hospital, want the best for it, whilst developing a positive working relationship with peers, managers, and patients. This will make them easier to motivate, share expertise and help co-workers and to provide a better continuity of care to patients.
The NHS spends over £3 billion a year and on an average day, there are an estimated 3,500 agency locums working in England and Wales. Consequently, it has been described by NHS staff that there are tense and hostile relationships between permanent members of staff and agency locum staff because of the inequality and differences in pay and/or responsibilities. This atmosphere in a hospital environment can be worrying as the focus is taken away from the excellent quality and continuity of care which is expected to be provided. Therefore, by employing permanent staff over agency locum staff – the permanent staff already employed at the hospital will feel of equal value and there will be less chance of hostility between staff.
To summarise, BDI Resourcing entirely understands that short-term agency locum staff are often needed due to NHS Trust staff sickness and holiday but we are very passionate about increasing the number of permanent doctors to replace long-term agency locums. Our passion derives from two fundamental reasons:
First, it is critical for NHS Trusts to start reducing their unnecessary expenditure on long-term agency locum staff, to allow them to increase their expenditure in other important areas such as increasing facility size, equipment, and medical research.
Second, if NHS Trusts cut their spending on long-term agency locums and replace them with permanent doctors this will create a strong continuity of care to patients. Cost-effective health care will improve primary care as the trust will become stronger over time as doctors and patients grow to know each other better through experience, creating compassion and commitment from permanent doctors.
Because of our passion to provide the NHS with a sustainable staffing solution and to save Trusts money – this year alone, we have worked with over 50 Trusts and saved the NHS over £10.5 million.
So, if you are interested in using our services to help provide you with permanent doctors over costly agency locums then get in touch with us at [email protected] – and we will be happy to help!
Alternatively, if you are an IMG who wants to relocate to the UK and work for the NHS then send your CV to [email protected] and one of our Specialist Advisers will be able to provide you with tailored advice.