NHS Improvement originally sent a letter to NHS trusts on 27th February 2017 stating ‘From 1st April 2017 trusts should not be using agencies to employ individuals who are substantively employed elsewhere in the NHS.’ A day before this was meant to go into effect NHS England made a stark U-turn and axed its plans to bring in the ban on nurses taking extra agency shifts in other NHS trusts.
Jim Mackey the chief executive of NHS Improvement announced the U-turn following a campaign by Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and its members. Mackey and general secretary Janet Davies’s letter to the RCN said ‘The instruction has caused uncertainty for providers, and created challenges for some of your members. This was not my intention and I can confirm that NHS Improvement is pausing until further notice.’
The plans are currently on hold until further notice.
The RCN had warned that if the ban had gone ahead it would have forced NHS staff into the private sector as earnings would have potentially dropped by £1,150 per year on average. During the campaign the NHS were informing nurses to join in house ‘banks’ but NHS banks pay at least 20% less per hour than agencies for the same shift.
Janet Davies agreed against the ban and said ‘This was an ill- conceived plan by NHS Improvement and today’s U-turn will be welcomed by nursing staff across the country. It is right to withdraw it and we will be seeking urgent meetings before any further plans are drawn up.’