Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Are temporary ward staff cost effective?

  • Comments (3)

Key points

  • More than half of UK nurses do temporary work.
  • Wards with permanent staff only have less sickness absence and are better staffed.
  • Wards with permanent and temporary staff have a greater workload than those with only permanent staff.
  • Permanent staff-only wards have higher ward quality scores than those that also have temporary staff.
  • Ward managers should monitor temporary staffing and its effects.

Let’s discuss

  • Why do you think ward using agency and bank staff have lower quality scores than wards with permanent staff only?

To think about:

  • How do you introduce temporary staff to your ward? How do you know this is effective?
  • What strategies could you use to ensure temporary staff understand their role and
    responsibilities in your ward team?
  • If you work as a bank or agency nurse what advice would you give ward staff about
    introducing you to the ward and team?

Follow the debate on Twitter #NTjournalclub

  • Comments (3)

Readers' comments (3)

  • Anonymous

    THere is always a problem of temporary knowing the ward, ward layout and how the team works. It can take time to get up to speed

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • There are times when every care environment needs to use temporary/ agency staff and speaking as an agency nurse who has been agency working for over 5 years now I feel that the mentioned drop in quality scores needs to be explored more. I have found the very same - Thant environments that use a lot of agency staff are often struggling to maintain quality - however this is not necessarily down to the agency staff alone as persistent low staff morale due to other issues leads to both sickness and staff leaving - thus leaving the care environment short staffed. Therefore the quality of care suffered long before an agency worker set foot on the ward.

    I am of the belief that as an agency or temporary staff member you have to be able to adapt and excel and I have often found that agency workers are some of the most highly qualified and experienced nurses. However there are a few things that we need in order to ensure that we can excel and that the quality of the nursing in the care environment does not deteriorate. A good and comprehensive handover is always essential along with a tour of the environment and a few helpful hints of what needs doing and when. It is also important to remember that if it is our first time with you then please feel free to tell us when tasks need doing. It is often useful to use agency nurses as a fresh pair of eyes and ears and we can often use our different skills to help to solve patient problems and challenges. Always remember to be friendly, welcoming and approachable. And most importantly if we do a good job tell us and ask for us again .. After all a good nurse, even an agency nurse, is always good news for patient care.

    I love agency nursing as it allows me to work around my family but most of all it is a type of nursing that allows me to really nurse my patients as I am not bogged down with paperwork and politics. Please if I come on to your ward then give me a smile and value me as I may even help to drive up the quality of care.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I agree bank and agency nurses do a great job to support the ward staff. However, I start a 1315 on a late shift and temporary staff come on at 1500. I have to stop caring for my patients and run through a handover again. We do use taped handover for some of the shifts but as its a busy ward things change quickly so a taped handover is not always helpful. Plus the clarity of speaker handing over is not always ideal. The temporary staff do not become familiar with patients and know them. Also some temporary staff (some) are not interested in being pro-active they leave things for the permanent staff to do. Also It would help if they started at the same time as permanent staff. I could go on but I can't see them increasing the hours of temps.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment.

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.