Heath Boards still not addressing need for nurses flexible working
Comments on the Audit Scotland report on Ward Nursing
UNISON, the main union representing healthcare staff, today, said that
Bridget Hunter, UNISONScotland Lead Officer for Nursing said
“This report acknowledges that there has been progress in dealing with nursing workforce planning, but UNISON thinks that progress has been painfully slow, and the report doesn’t look beyond the figures to begin to analyse the way forward.
“It is long past time that Health Boards provided the recommended Predictable Absence Allowance (PAA) level of 21%, We need to give Boards a deadline to comply with the staffing levels to cover predicted vacancies, and provide proper time off to nurses to continue their professional development. How can we retain trained nurses if we continually ask them to catch up in their own time?”
“Whilst using bank nurses to cover vacancies, is preferable to expensive private agencies, it begs the question why nurses want this method of work? UNISON thinks we still have not addressed the need for a more flexible way for staff to work.
“If the Health Boards get the PAA levels right and devise the right tools to measure staffing ratios then maybe then the use will diminish.”
The union welcomed the report as progress and indicated that it was willing to continue its work with the Executive and Health Boards to develop further recruitment and retention initiatives. Bridget Hunter said
“It is not acknowledged in the report, but the trade unions have been working closely with the NHS to improve recruitment and retention. Continued partnership working of this nature is the only way forward to deliver the staffing levels we need.”
– while Audit Scotland’s reported increase in the use of bank nurses instead of agency nurses was a step in the right direction, it did not answer the question of why nurses chose to work through either of these arrangements rather than in mainstream healthcare. The union also said that it was appalling that most Health Boards had still not achieved the recommended PAA (Predictable Absence Allowance) level of 21% even when this recommendation was sent out to every HB as long ago as Oct 2005.