Public sector ‘needs to use flexible working better’

The public sector needs to introduce effective flexible working patterns rather than cut staff, according to the Recruitment and Employment Federation.

The public sector needs to introduce effective flexible working patterns rather than cut staff, according to the Recruitment and Employment Federation.

It says recent reports of dangerously low staffing levels among midwives working in the NHS show how "knee-jerk" staffing cuts directly impact patient care. 
The shortage of available midwives was flagged up in a recent report by health watchdog, the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Tom Hadley, the REC’s Director of Policy and Professional Services, said:  “The lack of available midwives demonstrates the extent of the staffing challenge facing the NHS as well as other public sector employers. The squeeze on public expenditure will inevitably impact on the workforce, but we must avoid knee-jerk cuts that not only impact on patient care but also place unsustainable pressure on remaining staff.

“One solution is to make more use of flexible staffing arrangements such as temporary and locum staff in order to meet peaks in demand and provide essential cover in emergency situations, such as complicated births. Rather than seeing agency costs as one of the first budget lines to be slashed, NHS Trusts and other public bodies must recognise the importance of being able to call upon suitably qualified and properly vetted flexible staff.”  

Hadley added: “The recent report also underlines the need for strict guidelines – for example, in terms of number of workers per bed – in order to provide some objective measurement that adequate staffing levels are being met. In 2011, the public sector will see the real impact of 2010’s budget cuts – it is crucial that staffing costs are not seen as an easy way to balance the books with no regard to the impact on front line services.”





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