Friday, October 01, 2004

Nurse auction

Websites may be set up so that nurses could bid their price for a shift and the lowest priced nurse would be employed.

The NHS spent £600 million on agency staff last year. The wages for agency staff can be 30 - 40% higher than contracted staff.
So you would think that the interested bodies would be in favour because it offers more choice + a chance to save money: lower wages + the IT will save HR costs.

However, perhaps not surprisingly,the Royal College of Nursing is opposed:
"This is gimmicky and disrespectful to the professionalism of nursing. It encourages cheap labour and the RCN would be strongly opposed. This system has the potential to exploit vulnerable nurses, particularly overseas nurses, who comprise a significant proportion of the London nursing workforce. They could be pressured into underselling their skills having come from countries that pay nurses a lot less".

Head of nursing for Unison, Gail Evans, said:
"It would set nurse against nurse in unhealthy competition and is not an effective way of managing wards or getting the right skills mix. Nurses choose to work shifts because they have childcare responsibilities and to set these nurses against each other is an outrageous situation".

Marx couldn't have said it better himself: competition is bad, the workers would be exploited + exploit themselves + others. Note the suggestion that foreign nurses are not clever enough to use the system.
Yes it does encourage cheap labour - that is the point, because the NHS has finite resources + needs to spend money efficiently. Presumably the system will incorporate all the necessary factors (such as skills) leading to a ceteris paribus situation: given that these 10 nurses have the same skills, and X is prepared to work for the least, why not hire her?
If the system incorporates reputation via feedback from the employers (as in the Amazon sellers system) it would seem to be a winner for all concerned, except, as always, the vested interests.

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