NURSES and health professionals at the Great Western Hospital will be offered up to an extra £65 to work overtime during the busy winter period.

A new cash incentive has been introduced to encourage employees to cover more shifts until February, as GWH braces itself for the challenging months ahead.

The move is designed to keep up with demand, as a huge surge in patients is expected not only in Swindon but across the NHS.

Full-time staff signing up for an additional seven-and-a-half-hour shift in any area of the trust will be awarded £60 on top of overtime pay.

Part-time workers will be awarded between £25 and £65 per extra shift depending on their role and band, or pay level.

A Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust spokesman said the additional pay would save the hospital money in the long-term as hiring agency staff would incur much higher costs.

The new ‘reward’ follows a recruitment programme to alleviate pressure on employees.

“We are offering nursing staff, midwives and allied health professionals such as physiotherapists, the opportunity to earn extra pay for working extra shifts,” he said. “This is to reward our hardworking staff who are going above and beyond to provide high quality patient care throughout what will be a very busy and challenging winter. “At the same time, we are recruiting more staff – we have already recruited 252 nursing and midwifery staff since April.”

He added: “Offering staff the opportunity to work extra shifts means patients are being cared for by staff who are familiar with our wards. Paying staff in this way is better value for money for the taxpayer as it’s more cost effective than using agency staff.

“Our staff work incredibly hard 24/7, 365 days a year, often in challenging circumstances, and this is an extra thank you to those who are willing to help out at our busiest times.”

The hospital dismissed the idea that increasing the already busy schedules of staff would seriously impact the quality of patient care, explaining that employees routinely take extra shifts, especially during the winter months.

“Our staff often work additional shifts without any sort of concern on our part for patient safety,” he added. “These shifts will fit around their other commitments. And there are restrictions on the number of hours people can work over the course of several weeks. We will pay close attention to that.

“Our part-time staff work less hours anyway and we are offering these incentives to our bank staff, our in-house agency, and they might be on ten hours a week.”