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Agency, NHS Direct nurses face the axe

Trust executives are hoping to stop employing premium rate agency nurses altogether through long-term deals, while more than 1,400 NHS Direct staff have been warned they face redundancy as the organisation, report from the Worcester News and Nursing Times indicate.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust chief medical officer Mark Wake said the trust, like many others, was to some extent dependent on agency and locum staff.

Wake said the Trust planned to reduce the numbers of agency staff required by entering into a long-term arrangement with one agency and by using “appropriate rostering”.

If other Trusts adopt the plan followed by Worcestershire Hospital, it could lead to the eventual phasing out of reliance on agency staff and locums, the report states.

Meanwhile, the NHS Direct is planning to cut staff by about one third, putting more than 1,400 jobs at risk. The Nursing Times says the NHS Direct won contracts to deliver NHS 111 in a third of the country and will need just 850 full time equivalent staff, whereas it currently employs around 1,900 staff or 1,525 full time equivalents.

Nurses and call handlers that do stay on are being asked to take a pay cut, sparking national union Unison to describe the move as an “unmitigated disaster”.