I did it. Well…kind of. I’m still on a nurse bank in the NHS, as with recent changes in tax law I can no longer be paid as my limited company via an agency. That was the benefit for me, not ‘more money’. The agency I was with actually paid less than the bank I have since joined, due to the too little too late incentivisation brought in by that (and many other) Trusts. I belonged to an agency so that I could keep all my money together in my limited company, as a freelancer, with the added benefit of seeing how lots of different Trusts work.
Thing is, because we haven’t played nice, we have had our toys taken away. I have seen the system of NHS organisations paying individuals as limited companies be abused, and I completely understand the reasoning behind it’s removal, but it does pretty much ruin it for the rest of us, those who aren’t mercenaries motivated by greed.
I also understand the processes put in place to cap agency spend. Perhaps, if pay had not been capped so long, we wouldn’t have run up such a bill in the first place. I entered nursing knowing that I would have to do extra work in order to, perhaps not make ends meet, although sometimes it has been that, but certainly for treats. In the NHS, nurses measure things in ‘bank shifts’…a holiday? Oh, that’s three bank shifts. Unexpected bill? I’ll do a bank shift. New shoes? you get the picture. I also think that it is not necessarily about money. I was earning a very decent wage in the NHS before I left, and had been for a number of years. Significantly more than I am earning now!
So why did I leave? I left because I was frustrated. I genuinely reached a point where I felt that I could do more good for the NHS from the outside than I could from the inside. I remain frustrated, as I encounter a fair amount of negativity about my leaving (even from my GP!). The reality is, I provide a very competent bank/agency service, I am an expert witness for the law courts and provide objective ways for the NHS to learn from where things have not gone right, and as a leadership consultant I am able to find my voice in that crucial sense making, application to practice, culture change space, that only comes from knowledge of the every day reality of those you are helping. Wasted? I think not.
I read daily in various places how awful it is that the NHS is losing it’s nurses…and I agree…to an extent. Freedom to Speak Up refers to the NHS as a monopoly employer, and so it is. If it could start to see how it could work with ex-NHS employees in their new guises, with their vast and multiplicitous experience, perhaps it would tap into a resource of hitherto unknown value. The more it separates itself from the rest of the world, the more isolated the NHS is, and poses restriction only on to itself.