“I have worked for the NHS for well over 30 years now, I can’t wait to leave. I’ve got four years till early retirement and I can’t wait to go.”

Under pressure, rising demand and skills shortages mean comments like the above are increasingly common from frustrated health and social care workers. Feelings like this are leading to more people progressing their careers as agency workers to overcome some of the obstacles blocking job satisfaction within their careers.

Some of the reasons workers have stated in choosing this option include long-shifts, short-staffed wards and a lack of work-life balance. The strains of working in the public sector were outlined in a government report last month that said pressures at work were affecting marriage and family life and that recruitment agencies offered workers higher pay and flexibility while providing health services with experienced workers.

Also detailed in the report was how there had been an “acceleration” of agency workers in the public sector as job searchers shifted to agency work. Outlined below are the reasons why workers are turning to recruitment agencies. The benefits of a recruitment agency:


Being able to pick and choose what days and shifts to work as well as having the option to take a career break was rated highly amongst those interviewed. With increasing pressures on health and social care workers from challenges such as changing regulations and funding cuts, the flexibility that agency work can provide often allows workers to have a better work-life balance.

Higher pay.

The higher hourly pay was also a motivation behind choosing agency work as opposed to direct work. Even trust managers are coming to realise that agencies are able to provide the staff they need with one observing:

“£25 an hour through an agency or £14.50 through our bank, which one are you going to take? It’s a no brainer”.

Some state that once they reach the top of the Band 6 pay grade, agency work seemed to be their only method of achieving a pay rise.

Wider breadth of experience.

The opportunity to choose between different wards and trusts was mentioned as a key factor behind choosing to work agency side. Through working in a number of different environments, agency workers said they gained more experience and were able to explore different occupations. It would seem that this would be the preferred option for those new to the sector or even for foreign-born staff as an introduction to the sector before they commit to a specific trust or specialism.