Nurse Managers, Agency Nurses and Control
The focus of this paper is on the low trust employment relations that apparently were manifest between frontline nurse managers and their superiors in one National Health Service (NHS) Trust. These were uncovered during research that was primarily focused on the use of agency nurses. The study on which this paper reports, began as a preliminary exploration of the intersection of two separate and related interests first, in agency nurses as a fraction of the nursing labour force and second, in the work lives of frontline nurse managers. The aims of the study were to investigate the responses of frontline nurse managers in a NHS Trust to the use of agency nurses in their wards and departments and to contribute to an increased understanding of the role and function of front line nurse managers in the provision of health and sickness care. The investigation focused firstly on how nurse managers respond to the use of agency nurses and how specifically they understand their relationships with them as human resources in producing health and sickness care in the context of a changing environment wrought by structural and managerial reforms. A secondary focus was to identify themes and issues worthy of further research in a more structured in-depth study in the two areas of interest identified above.