RCN members in England have reacted angrily to a ban on trusts employing agency nurses whose main employment is in their own trust or another NHS trust.
NHS Improvement wrote to trusts last month advising them of the new arrangements but neither the RCN nor the NHS Staff Council agreed the move and there was no consultation.
Members have begun receiving letters from their employers telling them that trusts will only be able to engage staff working additional hours through staff banks and overtime. They have taken to social media to express their anger.
The initiative comes as NHS nursing staff await an announcement about pay, which has been suppressed for many years.
RCN Head of Employment Relations Josie Irwin said: “We do not support this agency ban and we were not consulted. We support the right of our members to work in whatever way is best for them and their families.
She added: “There is no obligation on nurses to join a hospital bank. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that shifts are filled. It is not right that nurses should work for less than they are worth.
“We will be taking this matter up further with NHS Improvement and the Department of Health.”
RCN advice to members
- Staff are entitled to make whatever employment/bank/agency arrangements suit them and their families. The RCN supports the right of nurses with a substantive NHS contract to choose how they work any extra hours.
- Employers should not be using “bank arrangements” to deprive staff of their full entitlement to overtime under Agenda for Change – which undermines their national conditions of service.
- NHS staff are entitled to overtime pay for working in excess of their contracted hours and should insist on this. They should not be forced to work on a hospital bank and not accept poor pay on the bank.
- Members should not undertake extra hours without confirming in advance how they will be paid – for example, overtime pay.
- Members should ask to be paid overtime rather than being offered time off in lieu.
- Members should ensure that if they are happy to work on a bank basis they are paid at least their substantive rate for their job plus any overtime – they should not work bank hours for pay less than their substantive grade.
- The RCN will be advising local representatives to lodge disputes with trusts intending to prevent members from working in their own hospitals through agencies just because they have substantive NHS contracts.