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What is bank nursing and how might it work for you?

Published on: 28 Sep 2021

Bank nursing offers the opportunity to work in different environments and broaden your experience, which may highlight other career options open to you.

How bank nursing can help your career

Bank nursing offers the opportunity to work in different environments and boraden your experience - which may highlight other career options open to you.NHS banks provide a pool of temporary staff to cover planned or unplanned shortfalls in the workforce, including sickness absence, vacancies and annual or maternity leave. They enable trusts to avoid having to pay expensive agency fees to fill any gaps in staffing.

Some bank staff work for the organisation already and want to top up their pay or gain different experiences. Others may have applied from outside to become part of the organisation’s bank.

Find out more about bank nursing and how it might for you and your nursing career.

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How does it differ from agency nursing?
Agency workers have a contract with an agency, working temporarily for an organisation that hires them. As an agency worker, you have a number of legal protections from the day you start work, under The Agency Workers Regulations 2010.

After you have worked for 12 weeks in the same place, you qualify for the same rights as someone employed directly. This includes the right to receive the same pay as a permanent colleague doing the same job, automatic pension enrolment and paid annual leave.

How do I book shifts? If circumstances change, can I cancel? And how much and how often will I be paid?
As a bank nurse, the practicalities of booking, changing or cancelling shifts vary from workplace to workplace, as will notice periods and arrangements for payment.

Check any paperwork carefully, making sure you understand local procedures.

Once registered as an organisation’s bank worker, you can usually look for shifts online. Some trusts offer extra pay on top of Agenda for Change rates and being paid weekly can also be an option.

Do I have to commit to a minimum or maximum number of shifts – and can I turn work down?
One of the advantages of bank working is you can choose the hours you want to work and you have no obligation to agree to work on days or times that do not suit you.

Similarly, availability of work is not guaranteed, with employers having no responsibility to provide you with regular shifts that meet your needs – or indeed offer you any work at all.

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What are the benefits of bank working?
The flexibility of bank work, with the possibility of working as little or as often as you choose, may suit those who are retired but still on the nursing register and want to supplement their income or maintain their skills.

It can also be useful for those who are juggling other commitments, including caring responsibilities or studying. For example, nursing students can opt to work as bank healthcare assistants, while they study.

Working in various environments can also broaden your experience, highlighting different career possibilities.

Can I only book bank shifts for the organisation that employs me? Or can I choose a different trust?
You can work for either. Some bank workers who want extra money take on additional shifts in the same ward or department where they are already employed. Others may opt to work for a different ward or alternative employer, gaining experience, knowledge or insight to develop their career or take it in a new direction.

Lynne Pearce is a health journalist

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This is an abridged version of the article What is bank nursing and how might it work for you? which was first published in Nursing Standard.

Read more careers articles on Nursing Standard