Exploring the characteristics of nursing agencies in South Africa

Rispel, L.C
Olojede, O.L
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Background: Nursing agencies are temporary employment service providers or labour brokers that supply nurses to health establishments. Objective: This study was conducted to determine the characteristics of nursing agencies and their relationship with clients in the health sector. Methods: During 2011, a cross-sectional national survey of 106 nursing agencies was conducted. After obtaining informed consent, telephone interviews were conducted with a representative of the selected nursing agency using a pretested structured questionnaire. Questions focused on the following: ownership, date of establishment, province of operation, distribution of clients across private and public health facilities; existence of a code of conduct; nature of the contractual relationship between nursing agencies and their clients, and numbers and cadres of nurses contracted. The survey data were analysed using STATA† 12. Results: Fifty-two nursing agencies participated in the survey, representing a 49% response rate. The study found that 32 nursing agencies (62%) served private-sector clients only, which included private hospitals, homes for elderly people, patients in private homes, and private industry/company clinics, and only four (8%) of the agencies served the public sector only. Twenty-seven percent of nursing agencies provided services to homes for elderly individuals. Nursing agencies were more likely to have contracts with private-sector clients (84%) than with public-sector clients (16%) (p 0.04). Although 98% of nursing agencies reported that they had a code of conduct, the proportion was higher for private-sector clients (73%) compared to public-sector clients (27%). In terms of quality checks and monitoring, 81% of agencies agreed with a statement that they checked the nursing council registration of nurses, 82% agreed with a statement that they requested certified copies of a nurse’s qualifications. Only 21% indicated that they conducted reference checks of nurses with their past employers. Conclusions: Nursing agencies should enhance their quality assurance mechanisms when engaging contracted staff. Overall, the study findings suggest the need for improved governance and management of nursing agencies in South Africa.
Nurses/organization and administration , Health Manpower , South Africa
Olojede, O. L., Rispel, L. C. 2015. Exploring the characteristics of nursing agencies in South Africa. Global health action; 8:27878