The first frost has arrived, the gloves and scarves have made their annual reappearance and you may have even heard your first Christmas song of the season; there's no denying it, winter is officially here.
This time of year is always the busiest for the NHS, with the flu virus spreading among those with weak immune systems, icy conditions making slips, trips and falls more likely and Christmas parties leading to a rise in alcohol-related incidents that require medical treatment.
Winter at the NHS
The health service will be in need of a significant increase in locum nurses over the next few months. This year, demand could be even higher than usual, as recent statistics from a report published by the Health Foundation showed that nursing numbers have been steadily declining in Britain recently, rising by just 1.1 per cent over the last three years.
At the same time, however, the number of senior managers being recruited by the NHS has risen by 11 per cent, indicating that the health service does have budget to take on more healthcare workers, but suitable candidates are not being placed into roles.
Altogether, between April 2016 and the same month this year, the number of people working for the NHS grew by two per cent, but nurse numbers dropped by 0.2 per cent.
Commenting on these findings, Janet Davies, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, stated: "The drop in the number of nurses this year is deeply worrying and particularly damaging when nurses are having to cope with rising numbers of patients."
Nurses who are willing to work on short-term contracts covering ad hoc shifts could be the blessing the NHS desperately needs as winter sets in and hospital admissions begin to increase further.
Opportunities for locum nurses
Agency nurses should have plenty of opportunities coming their way over the winter months, with those that are willing to work late-night shifts, over weekends, on typically busy nights like so-called 'Mad Friday' and on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and the New Year holiday themselves likely to benefit from greater opportunities and subsequent remuneration.
Winter is the time of year that locums are most likely to be able to find work due to its sheer busyness, but operating through an umbrella company means they can have a record of continuous employment, even if they only do ad hoc shifts for other trusts throughout the rest of the year.
Working through an umbrella company also provides locum nurses with access to a range of statutory benefits including sick pay and maternity pay, as well as allowing them to save into a workplace pension.
Nurses who decide to register with PayStream as their umbrella payroll provider will also get access to special deals, including discounts with over 6,000 retailers - which will be especially welcome in the run-up to Christmas.
The PayStream team can also point nurses working through their umbrella company service in the direction of independent financial advisers who specialise in the contractor sector. This will provide them with access to their 'Mortgage Desk', which can search the UK marketplace for lenders who look favourably on the remuneration structure of umbrella company contractors, so that they can always be assured that they are making the right decisions both for their career and their wider financial situation, at Christmas time and always.