A mental health trust in the South East is considering paying nurses enhanced hourly rates in order to attract them back from agency work.
Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said any enhanced payments could be phased over 6-12 months, and would lessen the impact of moving out of temporary working.
“We are exploring a range of measures to reduce our spending on agency shift cover for qualified nurses”
Lynn Richardson, HR director at the trust, said: “We are exploring a range of measures to reduce our spending on agency shift cover for qualified nurses and certain therapy roles, and increase the overall proportion of our pay that goes to substantive workers.
“We are considering whether it would be possible to match the hourly rate offered by the agency in some instances,” she said.
Ms Richardson said: “We are also exploring how we can retain employees who are ready for a promotion but for whom we do not have a higher banded role to offer them.
“We recognise that it makes much more sense to offer staff opportunities for progression and to retain their skills and knowledge, rather than paying for an agency worker while we seek to recruit,” she added.
The trust highlighted that the enhanced pay scheme was at an early stage and details have still to be discussed – although board papers suggest it has been costed and would be aimed at those who have left to join an agency because of the higher rates available.
Ms Richardson said: “While we’re keen to offer incentives to recruit and retain new staff, protecting the interests of our substantive workers is a top priority and any new measures would have to be thought through very carefully so that they are not open to misuse.”
Nurses could be offered enhanced rates to return to NHS
Source: Basher Eyre
Currently agency staff make up less than 12% of the trust’s workforce spending. However, board papers show it has a 17% vacancy rate and finds it difficult to attract sufficient band 5 applicants.
The rates trusts are meant to pay for agency staff are already capped at 55% above NHS hourly rates to reflect “run on” costs.
However, agency staff usually get higher take-home pay as these run on costs include pension contributions made by the employer and provision for other benefits.
As previously reported by Nursing Times, Oxleas Foundation NHS Trust is offering band 5 nurses higher take-home pay if they opted out of the NHS pension scheme.
The scheme is also aimed at attracting nurses who had gone into agency work.