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Nursing agencies or direct hiring: Which is better for nurses in UK?

A doctor speaks with an agency nurse who is working on her laptop.

Is direct hire or staffing agency better for nurses in the UK?

Britain is in the midst of a nursing shortage, with over 39,000 NHS jobs unfilled. This means that the trust relies heavily on agency staff to fill in the gaps, which provides a plethora of opportunities for nurses interested in temporary work. Low morale, an overworked schedule, and low pay are driving many people to leave the healthcare profession or work for nursing agencies. 

Nursing agencies assist healthcare workers in finding short-term contracts to work in a variety of settings. In this article, we will define nursing agencies and direct hiring, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of each, to help nurses make an informed decision. 

What is an agency nurse? 

Agency nurses are healthcare workers who work for nursing agencies that send them to various healthcare facilities on short-term contracts. Despite the fact that their duties and responsibilities vary depending on where they work, they typically treat patients with medicine. For example, an agency nurse may work at a hospital for a few days and then care for patients at their homes. When hospital staff members are on leave, agency nurses frequently cover shifts. 

What exactly is "direct nursing hiring"? 

A direct hire is when an organisation or a recruitment agency offers a job and the hospital or care facility is the employer. Nurses hired directly typically have less scheduling flexibility but offer more stability in terms of income, benefits, and paid time off. 

Pros of nursing agencies 

1. Higher pay per hour 

2. Schedule flexibility 

3. The ability to travel to new places 

4. Meet new people 

5. Learn more about nursing 

6. Gain additional experiences 

7. Raises and reviews are based on the agency's reputation 

Cons of nursing agencies 

1. Hours are not guaranteed 

2. No PTO and benefits 

3. Limited to no orientation 

4. Hours depend on patient census 

5. Limited facility access 

6. The possibility of being away from family and friends during contracts 

Pros of direct hiring 

1. Stable income 

2. PTO and benefits 

3. Build rapport with colleagues 

4. A comprehensive orientation with a mentor 

5. Facility-provided continuing education 

6. Quickly adjust to facility policies and protocol 

Cons of direct hiring 

1. Less flexible scheduling 

2. Increased work-duty demands from facility management 

3. Less pay per hour 

4. Inability to take a vacation when you want 

5. Raising and reviewing and being dependent on others 

Difference between working for nursing agencies and being hired directly by a facility 

Although nurses working for nursing agencies and staff nurses perform similar tasks and require similar education and training, there are a few key differences between the two. They are as follows: 

1. Salary 

Nurses who work for nursing agencies typically earn hourly wages, whereas nurses who are directly hired earn an annual salary. Nurses hired directly receive a benefit package that includes paid time off, health insurance, and a retirement plan, in addition to a salary. Nurses who work for nursing homes, on the other hand, rarely receive benefit packages. 

2. Work environment 

Nursing agencies and directly hired nurses can work in a wide range of healthcare settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, patients' homes, family practises, and specialty centres. Nursing agencies, on the other hand, require nurses to travel for work, so they may be assigned to multiple locations in a short period of time. Directly hired nurses, on the other hand, work in a single location on a consistent basis. 

3. Specialty 

Directly hired nurses may specialise in a specific type of care or field of medicine, such as emergency medicine or paediatrics. Nurses who work for nursing agencies, on the other hand, may have experience in a variety of specialties. An agency nurse's job is to assist healthcare providers with staffing issues, so they rarely specialise and instead assist where they are needed. This can provide nurses at nursing homes with more diverse experience than directly hired nurses. 

4. Schedule 

Directly hired nurses receive a schedule each week with a set amount of hours of work, nursing management determines the schedules for their nursing staff. In comparison, nurses working for nursing agencies can set their own schedules and work the number of hours they desire. While nurses at nursing homes have flexible work schedules, directly hired healthcare workers follow a set schedule. 

5. Relationship 

Directly hired nurses are able to form relationships with their co-workers because they work in the same location or facility for an extended period of time. While nursing agency employees do not work in a fixed location, they will not have any colleagues with whom they can build a rapport on a daily basis. 

6. Experience 

Nurses who are hired directly by organisations will have specialised knowledge. While nursing agency staff will have expertise in a wide range of areas of medicine, they will be assigned to different areas based on their skills. Agency nurses can work with patients who have a variety of health issues. 

7. Focus of the position 

Agency nurses' job duties frequently include patient care and assistance to other nurses. Nursing staff at a healthcare facility, on the other hand, may perform additional tasks such as managing schedules or meeting with doctors. If you want to focus on patient care, agency nursing could be the career for you. However, if you prefer working with doctors and other medical professionals as well as patients, staff nursing may be a better fit for you. 

8. Workplace stress 

Nurses who work for nursing agencies typically have less work pressure because they choose their own shift and location. Directly hired or staff nurses, on the other hand, face more work pressure because they must always work the assigned shift and in the same location. 

These are some of the key distinctions between nurses working with nursing agencies and direct hiring. The decision of an aspiring nurse to work with whom is based on personal preference. 

Nurses Group is a nursing staffing agency based in Yeovil with branches all over the UK. We prioritise both our nursing staff and our clients, making us one of the best nursing agencies to work and collaborate with. 

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