Agency nurses

Statement by Professor Hazel Borland, Nurse Director

NHS Ayrshire & Arran has a strong recruitment process for our entire workforce, and in particular, nursing and midwifery posts. This enables us to maintain high quality and safe care for our patients. Any decision taken about the use of supplementary nursing staff is always taken with quality of care and safety of patients and staff as a priority. We have an improvement plan in place to reduce our use of agency nurses as we would always wish to use our own staff in the first instance and ensure effective use of our resources. To ensure patient safety when there are high levels of sickness in staff, or additional workload pressure, extra staff are brought in to support these peaks. Before going to agencies for nursing staff, we use our ‘nurse bank’ (these are existing members of staff who can choose to make themselves available for additional shifts) and offer extra hours to existing part-time workers. We only use agency nurses to maintain services when all other solutions have been considered and the use of agency staff is required to provide a safe level of service.

Also, in line with NHSScotland guidelines we routinely use the nursing and midwifery workforce workload planning tools in order to maintain a sustainable workforce. If individual staff members have concerns about the staffing level on their shift, then I would encourage them to raise it at the time with the person in charge, so it can be escalated.