Thursday, 13 November 2014


I've mentioned before one of my favorite film quotes. "What'll that asshole think of next" from the mouth of the late Slim Pickens in the film Blazing Saddles.

It's a quote that, to me, springs to mind every time Jeremy Hunt opens his mouth. Every time. And today is no exception. In this pronouncement he makes it clear he's got agency staff in his sites, and the money they cost in having to pay them. Well, as someone who does agency work I'd like to make a couple of points.

1. As the Guardian article makes clear, "He will demand action to tackle the soaring cost of hospitals’ use of temporary staff – mainly nurses – who have been supplied by employment agencies to cover shifts in order to ensure wards are fully-staffed and patients receive good quality care." Well Hunt, who's ultimately responsible for the state of affairs where wards are not fully staffed? You are, in your bid to get care on the cheap. And it's going to get worse as the staff that you have demoralised simply walk away.

2. It's nice to see you admit you are prepared to compromise quality care to save money.

3. It's clear to me that Hunt doesn't like it when staff are in a position where they can demand a decent rate of pay. Agency staff can cultivate a "take it or leave it" attitude. More than once DZ has declined work because the pay on offer was inadequate. It's called the free market. Hunt's party is in favor of that isn't it? But Hunt wants staff he can treat like shit and pay peanuts.

Agencies will continue to provide staff at a market rate of pay and more people will leave the NHS for the greener grass. Hunt only has one choice. Pay up or fuck off.

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