Working as a nurse is a massive challenge in every single way. The fact is there are so many harsh truths we have to deal with, especially when it comes to pay. Typically, the average pay is enough for most people to live off, but recently, the cost of living crisis has seen everybody's finances constrict even further. Therefore, those who are dedicated servers of the NHS have found themselves looking further afield, and bank nursing is something that so many people have considered or, in fact, have already gone to for the very simple reason that it pays a lot more. If anybody's considering working bank shifts, what are the things they need to know?
The Differences Between Bank Shifts and Full-Time Employment
Many nursing banks are run by NHS health boards, but there are also private banks that can place staff into NHS hospitals if the NHS is not able to cover positions from their own bank staff. If you see a healthcare staffing agency offering positions, it is important to remember that the key difference typically boils down to the administrative aspects.
Nurses who are looking for bank work to top up their pay alongside their NHS work will need to have an extra DBS check (if not working in the same Trust). Additionally, there are tax implications because you are working a second job. Therefore, you need to make sure you're being taxed at the right rate.
A second job can result in being taxed at the basic rate, which means that you could be getting paid a lot less than you should. But the rates of pay for bank nurses are typically higher the higher your band is. If you are a Band 8 nurse, you will be paid more lucratively, but if you are further down the scale, you can expect to get paid less.
Preparing for a Typical Shift
A bank shift can vary depending on what is needed. Most people who work bank shifts tend to opt for the full 12 hours, but this, of course, can be very gruelling. However, if you compare this to a typical shift on an NHS ward, the pay makes it a far more enticing prospect. If you've already done a lot of 12-hour shifts, you know what you are in for, but it doesn't hurt to make sure that you are fully prepared by doing some of the following:
Planning your meals and snacks. There may be very limited opportunities for breaks, but you need to take your breaks and use them as wisely as possible, and it's at this time that you should refuel and rehydrate. If necessary, take a nap if you can.
Wear comfortable shoes. You know how tough it is to work a long shift; therefore, having comfortable shoes as well as compression socks can help if your feet and legs are swelling after standing up for so long.
Benefits of Being a Bank Nurse
Flexibility in choosing shifts. You can choose when and where you want to work (but you have to be fully compliant with the Trust or private hospital you wish to work for). Because you are on a zero-hours contract, you aren't part of the roster system of the department you are working.
Competitive pay. You can expect escalated pay rates for bank nurses. NHS employees usually receive an hourly rate based on their band on the Agenda for Change (AFC) with enhancements on unsocial hours. Bank rates tend to be more but some Trusts still pay flat rates for bank shifts so check with them first before making a decision to register with the Bank. You can also expect enhanced pay rates at the top of your bank rate if you work nights, weekends and bank holidays.
Professional Development. As a bank nurse, you're still considered part of the department. Hence, it is the department's obligation to ensure you get the necessary training for your role. They can provide Continuous Professional Development (CPD) courses and study days that will help you to be competent and confident within your role.
Disadvantages of Bank Nursing
Working in an unfamiliar environment. As a bank nurse, you are expected to fulfil the duties in your area pretty much straight away unlike the new staff members who receive ample time to be supernumerary until they are deemed competent.
You may receive a brief induction on your first day about the area and getting to know where things are but you are expected to work as a capable nurse who can provide care to patients safely and effectively without direct supervision. Hence, it's essential to be competent and confident in troubleshooting complications and have had enough nursing experience before deciding to be a bank nurse, especially in other hospitals or departments.
Working a bank shift is an amazing way to top up your finances. But, of course, because you are working as a bank staff, you might not be going into an environment you know very well. It's always best to be prepared for the unknown too.
***This is a contributed post and contains affiliate links***