We know lots of you have questions about working in new settings during the COVID-19 pandemic and why you’ve not been able to before. Here’s some information that should help answer those questions.
At the Scottish Nursing Guild, our recruitment and compliance processes are extremely stringent. These processes ensure that every Guild worker has the most recent and relevant experience and importantly, is referenced to work within each specialty area they have applied to work in. By doing this, our clients can be confident we are providing an agency worker who is competent to work as part of their team as soon as they walk through the door.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, pressures on NHS, HSE and community settings have increased. A significant percentage of the usual workforce is unable to work either due to shielding, self-isolation or contracting the virus itself. This has left certain hospital and community areas extremely short staffed. To relieve the pressure on these understaffed areas, government and regulatory bodies, such as the NMC, recognised that desperate times called for a pragmatic approach and made recommendations to ease the restrictions on medical professionals working in their specific specialty areas.
The NMC opened a temporary register for retired and student nurses to join, to support the national fight against COVID-19. This was enabled through emergency legislation passed by the government in March. This meant that retired and student nurses could be deployed quickly, bypassing most of the registration requirements previously in place. They also encouraged nurses who worked in certain specialty areas that had been closed or slowed down as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, to consider working in new ways. You can read more here. You can also read the RCN’s response on nurse redeployment here.
What does this mean for you?
We know that many of you have been asked to work in new or unfamiliar clinical areas, where work isn’t available in your usual speciality field. This is for the benefit of patients, colleagues and the entire nation. We will only offer you the opportunity to work in these new ways if both you and the Guild feel confident that your skills and experience are appropriately transferable to this new setting – we would never expect you to work in an area where you wouldn’t feel confident or able to perform the minimum required duties of care, to the highest standard.
Life after COVID-19
The government and regulatory bodies have been very clear in stating that any workforce redeployment measures are temporary. Once we defeat the COVID-19 virus and life returns to normal, we fully expect these measures to be phased out and for nursing professionals to return to their native way of working. We know that many of you will have questions about being able to continue to work in settings you wouldn’t ordinarily work in. We cannot say for certain whether this will continue to be permitted by the NHS, HSE, DHSC or regulatory bodies. We will await further guidance from these organisations, but our stance will always be that we will only place you in settings where you are appropriately skilled, experienced and referenced to work. This is for your safety as well as the safety of patients and clients.