Talk Health and Care

Bank staff potential missed!

Nurse bank staffing in many hospitals is not maximising the potential.

I am sure there are many people like myself that want to keep clinical hours but either have a management post, care responsibility, or a sick daughter or whatever. And cultivating them means a reserve of staff that can be used when needed.

But nurse bank staffing is sometimes poorly run, not inclusive, it is often better run from the teams for which they work. Ive worked bank where they use rosta pro, its laborious to put on availability it doesnt marry up well with the shifts staff put on, its rarely real time, Ive chased shifts that didint exist, I could fill gaps flexibly that werent on the was clumsy. Working with an admin person on the team, there is more scope for flexibility juggling existing staff and bank staff etc:  

I have worked on the bank, where I was included in the main staff team mailing list so knew about ward training, where I was included in the social notices, any round robin changes or ward notices came to me too. I was paid to attend ward training and staff meetings and felt part of the team.

The last bank staff I worked on was poor, the shifts never got to me, I had to go in and actually look at their off duty to see gaps and offer to fill them. As the onus was on me, when my life had other commitments and I didnt chase work it failed to come.

I hadnt worked for a while due to sick daughter and before I had a chance to resume shifts, payroll had automatically triggered a letter to say I'd missed 2 payrolls and here was my P45. It would only have taken them a phone call saying did I wish to stay on bank or not. If I had been part of an extended ward team they would have known my circumstances.

I am highly qualified and staff were only too delighted to have a bank nurse come on duty with excellent qualification and skills, I was always warmly welcomed on shift, and always the same dismay from staff....why dont they use you more.

So my message is the NHS could cultivate a whole army of 0 hours contract staff. I'm winding down to retirement. I cant do contracted hrs, due to daughter having crises I need to address, I'd be working bank shifts still if the NHS made it easier, less hassle.

Instead I felt unappreciated, dumped and it was hard work on my part to stay working, which is a waste when I enjoy working and the NHS need skilled staff.

edited on Oct 25, 2018 by Adam DHSC

PATRICIA CLARKE 9 months ago

Unfortunately, it is merely another symptom of contracting out to non-clinical corporations, whose woeful attempt to 'saving money' is by penalising the ever diminishing army of nurses with poor rostering systems. Poor rostering only focuses on total submission to work demands and not work/life balance.

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Jacqui 8 months ago

Don't get me started on rosterpro, which was brought in in another hospital when I was working at the SHA and relied on bank shifts to maintain my registration hours, that was another nightmare and you are right was a system that didnt serve the NHS well. But although your response rightly diagnoses the problem, it is very defeatist. Either the NHS must do more to ensure that contractors meet the specification, and if bank systems or contracted out companies dont work well for the NHS then it must look to problem solving and may gain a lot by setting up its own bank team,not least a winter crisis to survive with the help of a larger reserve, or pool of nurses, who like I me may be in management, or part time, or retired, that it would suit to work 0hrs contract, a win/win situation. As it is, you are short of nurses, and I feel wasted! Come on... I thought this was a solution focused site!!!

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Matt Hancock 7 months ago

Thanks for your comment, Jacqui and for the commitment you have shown working in the NHS for over 40 years!

You’re absolutely right about the potential of banks – not only can they help trusts save money, they can also offer more staff flexibility.

We’re currently working with a number of trusts around the country to pilot new and better ways of operating staff banks. This includes looking into quicker payment for shifts better rostering technology (e.g. improved self-booking), and pension opt-out flexibility.

We’re sure that better banks are vital for the future of temporary staffing in the NHS, and we’d like to hear more of your ideas. What else makes banks attractive to staff and what else stops managers using them?

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Jacqui 5 months ago

I know 0 hrs contracts get a lot of bad press but used in the right way they have advantages. Many permanant staff sign on as bank staff as a way of working extra hours to their contract. Which is helpful to them if the have a 22 hrs a week or whatever because when family life allows they can work more.
I used working on the bank when I was working independently as an independent serious incident investigator(health and social care), in order to maintain my clinical hours on the ward. I also used bank work when my daughter(age 12) was suffering from mental health problems and spent 7 months in an inpatient eating disorder unit (200 miles away), as my full time NHS management post became impossible to manage. Bank clinical work gave me the capacity to take the time needed for my daughter.
As a manager of childrens services at one stage of my career Id say that bank staff help you manage budgets, firstly because it gives you extra capacity at times you need it. Paediatrics was 90% emergency admissions and therefore hard to predict staffing levels. It also became harder as employment law developed to keep a ward covered 24/7 for 365 days a year when you were obliged to be a good employer, with a largely female workforce, being family friendly etc leaves great holes in rostas, having a pool of bank, enables some hope of filling the gap without having to increase full time establishments and committing staffing budget.
If you need patient transfers, children to be 'specialed' then a bank pool of staff is helpful. You do need to invest a little in a bank pool Id say you need to include them in team training, as extended team members, that is why I think they work best in service, rather being hived off for a remote bank manager to manage. Most bank staff are most useful when they know a discreet service like paediatrics and neonates, or adult medicine etc: And as with all staff they need to feel valued. I think more managers would get loyalty out of bank staff if they were part of an extended team, they know how to manage a situation knowing the skills and hours those banks staff can cover to enable them to juggle the people they have. If bank staff know each other and the permanant team they know where they fit and can be more useful, and trusted.
I shouldnt say this but bank nurses that are only on your bank, its a good way of trying out new staff, if staff dont fit with the team you have no reason to give them a contract. I will accept that bank working would not have suited me earlier on in my career, I needed a contract to pay a mortgage, I needed a contract to ensure sick leave and maternity leave, but it is all about personal choice. Later in my career those things mattered less and flexibility was key.
At the end of my career I wanted to continue working bank for the flexibility but equally to continue nursing, anyone employing me got huge skill and experience, and for managers it may be a good way of keeping skills in the system, of bringing maturity to a team. I'd have been happy to do some mentoring to offer some shadowing experience, so managers could use older staff for training purposes.
Agency staff sometimes are seen negatively, they do cost lots and not always worth the money, they may not know the ward, they are less trusted in terms of having the measure of them. I worked very little agency and preferred bank working as it was less stressful, I was very capable and people were always amazed I was so well skilled but as agency you were gone again and onto the next slot to fill, and an unknown ward, its less satisfying.

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