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Locum staff should be hailed not curtailed, says REC Medical

Working Time opt out would be retrograde step - Locum staff should be hailed not curtailed, says REC MedicalThe Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), the representative body for the UK recruitment industry, including specialist medical agencies, has today hit back at the systematic focus on the cost of using locum staff rather than on the benefits they bring to the NHS and other public sector employers. Recent figures show an increasing spend on locum doctors, primarily due to working time regulations which limit the number of hours that junior doctors can be on duty.
This has had a particular impact in areas such as 24hour acute care and has led to organisations such as the Royal College of Surgeons calling for an opt out from the EU Working Time Directive. The REC has countered these calls by highlighting the implications for patient safety and the benefits of using locum staff as an alternative.
Commenting on recent developments, Tom Hadley, Director of Policy and Professional Services at the REC says"Are we really advocating a return to eighty hour weeks for overworked, overstretched doctors?  Opting out of the Working Time regulations would be a retrograde step and does not befit a modern and efficient healthcare service that values the well-being of patients and staff.The reality is that locum doctors provide a cost-effective and flexible way of spreading the load and ensuring that the right staff are in the right place at the right time. Of course, costs must be managed. However, they must also be put in context and  weighed against the cost of employing more permanent staff or having internal NHS staff replicate the work of specialised agencies in sourcing, vetting and placing suitably skilled  locum staff.We must move away from seeing temporary and locum workers as an unnecessary cost within the public sector. The effective supply of properly trained and vetted locums is crucial to the delivery of front line services - it should be hailed as a huge benefit rather than curtailed."
The REC will continue to work with the Department of Health and procurement bodies to find ways of balancing cost control with a sustainable supply and patient safety.


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