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  • 06 November 2011
  • 5 min read

How budget cuts have affected nursing jobs and care home jobs in 2011

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Matt Farrah interviews Kwabena Amaning from STR, who gives his view on how jobs in the nursing and care homes industries have been affected by the budget cuts. Find out what the cut-backs have meant for nursing and residential care job seekers and recruitment agencies alike.

Kwabena Amaning is STR Group’s Healthcare Divisional Manager.

What impact have the national financial constraints on budgets had on the number and type of nursing job vacancies during 2011?

From an agency perspective it’s important to differentiate between public and private sector roles. Speaking to hiring managers across the NHS for instance there has been a concerted move to recruit even more bank staff to cover more shifts, or ask their existing bank staff to cover more of the shifts.

The cost implication of doing this is to effectively reduce agency spend and therefore save significant amounts of money in the short term.

The number of nursing jobs vacancies have also reduced over the last 18 months with Trusts consolidating on staff where they can and not replacing leavers.

Some managers we have spoken to say this has a significant impact on the tangible quality of service given and the morale of the remaining staff.

We are seeing a rationing of vacancies in disciplines such as Midwifery, Paediatrics, and Oncology, in particular within the public sector. The private sector has definitely seen an upturn in the amount of nursing vacancies that have come through over the past year.

Certain private groups are pushing forward quite aggressively with recruitment for most nursing specialisms. The way they are trying to save money is through implementing PSL (preferred supplier) agreements with specific agencies and driving down the cost of recruitment that way.

To be accepted onto PSL agreements agencies are being asked to reduce margins; the hook is that some business is better than none at all. This will benefit the agencies that are on the PSLs, but ultimately force other agencies to think again about how and where to get business revenue. 

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It seems that some nurses who otherwise might be looking for a new job are holding tight. Is that your experience too? Would you say that gives those candidates who throw themselves in to the jobs market an advantage?

The current economic situation is, arguably, making people much more cautious about a change of role. Agencies are having to be more intuitive about the market needs and receptive to what a candidate is looking for.

Agencies are also having to work harder to find the right candidates for their jobs.

It makes sense that the fewer candidates there are in the market, the more opportunity there is for those searching for new jobs - thus making it a candidate-led market. However the fact that there are less jobs around for candidates to chase does not significantly improve or make it advantageous for candidates looking for work.

Experienced and commercially aware nurses will always have an advantage from the point of view that the private sector are looking for competent, efficient and hardworking nurses who understand not only their disciplines but the wider business sector.

The overall trajectory of jobs in residential care is inevitably one which will rise and rise over the next 25 years in general. But how would you sum up the care homes jobs market during the past 12 months?

Overall it has been very positive. There has been active recruitment from many of our clients and we have benefited from being on PSLs and having strong relationships.

The Care Home and Nursing Home market has seen an upturn in growth with over 21,000 care homes now operating in the UK.

There have been regional fluctuations in recruitment, the South has definitely seen the highest rise in new vacancies and recruitment of new staff, whereas the north, specifically the north east and Wales have suffered from a lack of quality candidates.

The cost implication is becoming much more prevalent with the national cuts kicking in, more care homes are looking to reduce costs and invariably this has had an impact on the fees that they are paying to agencies.

There is still a need for agency temporary workers for some care home jobs to cover shifts and holidays, but again there is definitely a step change in attitude towards a reliance on such workers because of budgetary constraints.

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Domiciliary care jobs seem to have remained strong where other care and nursing jobs markets may have been hit harder by budget cuts. Is it your experience that care staff are happy to make the move in to domiciliary care if they're currently working in other sectors?

As an agency that does not specialise in domiciliary care it is without authority that we can answer. However, undoubtedly, this is an area that the current government and the previous government would look to increase for a number of reasons.

One main reason is that it is again a cost cutting exercise, which looks to use home help as opposed to costly care home expenditure.

Most care staff who are happy to work in this sector would, in my opinion, be happy to work in the domiciliary care market if it suited their needs.

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I believe people should be able to choose to enjoy work. That is, choose an employer who reflects their values and provides them with a sustainable career.

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