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Research at two NHS A&E departments shows inexperienced temps can negatively impact work of permanent staff

Human Resource Management International Digest

ISSN: 0967-0734

Article publication date: 3 February 2021

Issue publication date: 6 July 2021




The purpose of the research was to assess whether hiring temporary staff at NHS hospitals had a negative impact on the quality of work of the permanent staff. The authors wanted to test the hypothesis that taking advantage of the flexibility of temps was a “false economy” because it distracted permanent staff from focusing fully on their own tasks


The authors selected two London hospitals with different approaches to temporary staff recruitment. Hospital A was a major NHS Foundation Trust and teaching hospital. It used NHS Professionals (NHSP) for the provision of bank and agency nurses, as well as doctors and locums. Meanwhile, Hospital B used its own internal bank staff as temps. Managers at both hospitals were asked to assess the work of the temps and its impact on permanent staff.


Results showed the generally negative effect of using temporary staff on permanent staff. But it depended on the nature of the temps. The more experienced temps could generally be trusted to get on with the job, whereas the inexperienced ones required more supervision. Other potential problems included the temps’ unfamiliarity with procedures that slowed down their work, and sometimes a lack of motivation as they were only there for a short time.


Based on the results, the authors proposed an approach to improved practice beginning with “macro-level managers.” They said that they may usefully be tasked with maintaining service quality as a higher priority than contracting costs, and ensuring that policies reflect the need for adequate staffing levels. They could also encourage permanent staff to do occasional temporary shifts.



(2021), "Research at two NHS A&E departments shows inexperienced temps can negatively impact work of permanent staff", Human Resource Management International Digest, Vol. 29 No. 3, pp. 1-3.



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