UNISON welcomes U-turn on NHS agency work ban

NHS Improvement has paused plans to ban health service employees from picking up extra work with agencies, following a campaign by UNISON.

In a letter to UNISON head of health Christina McAnea, chief executive of NHS Improvement Jim Mackay says the ban is to be paused until further notice.

In her initial letter to NHS Improvement, Christina described the ban’s consequences for staff as both ‘immediate and detrimental’. The plans were originally due to take effect tomorrow (Saturday), with the aim of cutting back on agency costs in the NHS.

UNISON head of health Christina McAnea said: “This was the right thing to do.

“The billions being spent on agency staff every year could be better spent on patient care, but while staff shortages continue, it’s an expense that can’t be avoided.

“It would have been completely wrong to penalise NHS staff and stop them from topping up their wages, when the government has been holding down their pay for years.

“It’s good that NHS Improvement has put these plans on hold. Now what’s needed is for ministers to give health employees a decent pay rise, so that their wages don’t fall further and further behind salaries in the rest of the economy.”

Notes to editors:
– In a letter to NHS trusts on 27 February 2017, Jim Mackay said: ‘From 1 April 2017 trusts should not be using agencies to employ individuals who are substantively employed elsewhere in the NHS.’

Media contacts:
Joe Lewis T: 0207 121 5255 M: 07970 863 411 E: j.lewis5@unison.co.uk
Alan Weaver T: 0207 121 5555 M: 07939 143310 E: a.weaver@unison.co.uk