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Greater use of locums affects wellbeing of NHS staff and patients, report finds

Wellbeing of both staff and patients is better when fewer locums or agency staff are used in the NHS, a report by two think tanks has found.

The report, by the King’s Fund and the Picker Institute warned that staff wellbeing is “impacted negatively by a workforce that is overstretched and supplemented by temporary staff”.

Patients’ experiences were also negatively associated with workforce factors, including “higher spend on agency staff”, the report said.

The report said there was “a body of evidence” linking staff wellbeing to patient outcomes and experience, and it warned that work pressures and staff shortages in the NHS were “escalating, and likely to worsen given financial constraints and the probable impact of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU”.

An increase in recruitment of temporary NHS staff is reflected within the pharmacy profession.

NHS Digital workforce statistics show that bank staff working in the pharmacy care setting in NHS Trusts and clinical commissioning groups in England has increased by 21.2% in the last year, from 786 in 2016 to 953 in 2017.

The King’s Fund and Picker Institute report said its findings highlighted the importance of reducing dependency on agency staff, “not just as a cost-cutting measure, but also from a quality of care perspective”.

The report said: “These findings are unsurprising. Use of agency staff provides less continuity and stability of care, and inadequate staffing and high bed occupancy will impact negatively on the quality of inpatient care.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20204373

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