Date 25 January 2007
Health Boards still not addressing need for nurses flexible working
UNISON Comments on the Audit Scotland report on Ward Nursing
UNISON, the main union representing healthcare staff, today, said
that - while Audit Scotland's reported increase in the use of bank
nurses instead of agency nurses was a step in the right direction,
it did not answer the question of why nurses chose to work through
either of these arrangements rather than in mainstream healthcare.
The union also said that it was appalling that most Health Boards
had still not achieved the recommended PAA (Predictable Absence
Allowance) level of 21% even when this recommendation was sent out
to every HB as long ago as Oct 2005.
Bridget Hunter, UNISONScotland Lead Officer for Nursing said "This
report acknowledges that there has been progress in dealing with
nursing workforce planning, but UNISON thinks that progress has
been painfully slow, and the report doesn't look beyond the figures
to begin to analyse the way forward.
It is long past time that Health Boards provided the recommended
Predictable Absence Allowance (PAA) level of 21%, We need to give
Boards a deadline to comply with the staffing levels to cover predicted
vacancies, and provide proper time off to nurses to continue their
professional development. How can we retain trained nurses if we
continually ask them to catch up in their own time?"
"Whilst using bank nurses to cover vacancies, is preferable to
expensive private agencies, it begs the question why nurses want
this method of work? UNISON thinks we still have not addressed the
need for a more flexible way for staff to work.
"If the Health Boards get the PAA levels right and devise the right
tools to measure staffing ratios then maybe then the use will diminish."
The union welcomed the report as progress and indicated that it
was willing to continue its work with the Executive and Health Boards
to develop further recruitment and retention initiatives.
Bridget Hunter said "It is not acknowledged in the report, but
the trade unions have been working closely with the NHS to improve
recruitment and retention. Continued partnership working of this
nature is the only way forward to deliver the staffing levels we
For Further Information Please Contact: Bridget Hunter (Scottish
Lead officer for Nursing) 07958 120 780 (m) Chris Bartter (Communications
Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)