ghp June 2015

16 | ghp June 2015 warned that nurses employed directly by a trust would resist any changes to payments they receive for work- ing outside office hours. Speaking to the Independent newspaper, Carter said: “The membership is quite clear: unsocial hours, weekend working, Christmas Day and bank holidays – they get a very modest high- er level of remuneration. Any attack on that and I do fear it would result in industrial action.” So what’s the solution to staffing the extra services proposed? We certainly need a long-term plan. It’s encouraging to see that the RCGP, in conjunction with NHS England, has set out a 10-point plan which addresses the need to pipeline future talent. Simi- larly, Health Education England (HEE) has outlined “robust training and recruitment plans” that will lead to more permanent doctors, nurses and paramedics in the NHS. Furthermore, GPs will be encouraged to delay or come back from retirement under a new £10m scheme attempting to boost the numbers of family doctors. However, until better workforce planning strategies are in place, the viability of a truly seven-day NHS rests on the short term availability of locum doctors and agen- cy nurse practitioners. There are simply not enough GPs to fill current permanent positions and extending opening hours will only stretch available resources even further. Without the use of agency staff, the health service would fall over. Cameron’s proposals will only compound the need for flexible staffing solu- tions to maintain quality front line services. The NHS is going through times of unprecedented change. A series of bold Government initiatives de- signed to integrate the health and social care sectors – as outlined in the NHS Five Year Forward View – look set to invariably transform the core structures of local authorities across the UK. And these changes will, hopefully, ease blockages at the back door within acute settings. Greater access to GPs also has the potential to simultaneously relieve pressure at the front door as GPs become gatekeepers to stretched accident and emergency departments. If executed strategically, the health service could find itself oper- ating more efficiently, effectively easing some of the pressures it is currently facing. In order to realise this new vision for care, NHS trusts must look at all available sources of talent to build new structures which are fit for purpose. Of course, the future of the NHS depends on a fresh approach to workforce planning, however, in the interim, the truth is we must rely on contractors. Agency and locum professionals, who are subject to the same stringent criteria that permanent staff must adhere to, are our first line of defence against reduced care quality and patient safety issues. To put it simply, the success of a seven-day NHS hinges on the availabili- ty of contractors. industry insight