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HCL: Flexible Staffing Best Way to Minimise EWTD Risks

HCL: Flexible Staffing Best Way to Minimise EWTD Risks

HCL plc, the UKs largest specialist health and social care staffing agency, said today that the new European Working Time Directive for doctors need not harm patients as long as hospital managers make good use of flexible staffing in their workforce rotas.

The Company was responding to a report issued by the Royal College of Surgeons which claims that lives are being lost because the new maximum 48 hour working week means that patients are being switched between doctors instead of being cared for by the same team round the clock.

HCL advised that making more efficient use of locum and flexible staffing is the best way to comply with the regulations and maintain high levels of patient care by ensuring that shifts are always adequately covered.

Kate Bleasdale, Executive Vice Chairman of HCL, explained:
Continuity of care for patients is important, but we have got to strike a balance - nobody wants a return to the days of junior doctors working extremely long shifts which could affect their concentration and judgement. The solution is not for doctors to work longer than their 48 hours, but to use more flexible staff when planning shift rotas.
Were seeing increasing evidence that hospital staffing managers are meeting this challenge by making locum doctors integral to their working planning. Instead of calling in temps at the last minute to cover for emergencies or absenteeism, some managers maintain a deliberate vacancy factor in their workforces so they can manage staff numbers efficiently to meet the peaks and troughs of demand for clinical services. We have always advised that the optimum vacancy factor should be 10 - 15%.
Leading staffing companies like HCL's dedicated doctors agencies Thames Medics and JCJ Locums have a large pool of highly qualified locum doctors who can be made available at short notice and hit the ground running. Staffing managers should make better use of these resources its the best way to maintain frontline services and avoid compromising patient care.

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