Working more flexibly gives staff the chance to find that elusive balance: the balance between patients, colleagues, loved ones and, of course, themselves; writes Melanie Simmonds
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Healthcare professionals are exceptional people with seemingly endless stamina to help those in need, no matter what the circumstances. We’ve seen this during the pandemic and we will see it again as another winter sets in.
But there is growing evidence this legendary resilience has limits (although this should not surprise us). In a recent report, for example, the Royal College of Nursing highlights a 30 per cent rise in nurse and health visitor sickness absence for mental health reasons in the past two years, along with increases in physical complaints (some covid-19-related).
As the NHS’s biggest supplier of flexible staff, with a community of 180,000 members working in more than 50 NHS Trusts, we are fully committed to supporting our current and future members as people, not just professionals. This means we’re committed to their health, wellbeing and development so they stay positive and strong for the long-term.
In fact, we’ve turned this commitment into a cast-iron promise to our members: “We promise to welcome, support and celebrate members as part of our flexible working community; benefiting their lifestyle, their career and our NHS.”
We feel a promise like this is more important than ever, as we deal with the aftermath of an extraordinary two years. We are passionate about supplying trained and skilled temporary staff to the NHS to help it tackle rising demand and make it sustainable in a new era of integrated care. But we are also passionate about the staff themselves and appreciate the sheer hard work it takes to provide consistently safe, high-quality NHS care and services.
This appreciation is behind the message of our new winter staffing campaign, “We’re With You”. A key aim of the campaign is to encourage healthcare professionals, clinical and non-clinical, to join our thriving Bank and support their local NHS this winter. Another key aim is to highlight the benefits of flexible working as a positive career choice. These benefits include the opportunity to take more control over working hours and locations; to get the first choice of shifts; to earn paid leave; and to achieve a better work-life balance for improved health, well-being and productivity. Our Members also get access to health and wellbeing resources, 24/7 service centre support all-year-round, an awards scheme and exciting career and CPD opportunities.
Working more flexibly gives staff the chance to find that elusive balance: the balance between patients, colleagues, loved ones and, of course, themselves. Each one deserves time and energy and balancing them all can be hard. But having greater flexibility over when and where work takes place can make a positive difference.
Many of our members, like Midwife Teresa Walker, have chosen flexible working to help strike this balance. Teresa joined us in November 2019 and said: “NHSP has supported my work-life balance and family commitments enormously. While I still want to support the team and work on the unit, I have the ability to choose what suits around the needs of the family.”
Joining NHSP also means members are part of a community of flexible workers, all supporting the NHS, which is another “essential aspect” of health and wellbeing according to our chief nurse Juliette Cosgrove.
She said: “Our Bank Members deserve a community where they can engage with each other, develop their skills and take care of themselves, ensuring they can build on the resilience they depended on during the pandemic to avoid burnout.
“Winter is, traditionally, the most difficult time of the year. After eighteen months of the covid-19 pandemic, we’re all still on the front line, working to keep it at bay to protect our patients and their communities.
“We are appealing for more people to join us to help support staffing in their local NHS. In return, we promise to be with them at every moment so that they can confidently build the flexible career that works for them.”
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