NHS Improvement ("NHSI") has called for NHS Trusts to fill temporary vacancies with "bank staff" rather than agency workers, as NHSI say agencies cost 20% more on average.
NHS Improvement introduced price caps on agency staff in 2015 and says:
- £1.2bn has been saved since these caps were introduced;
- improvements to rostering/flexible working mean fewer NHS staff feel the need to join an agency;
- 2017/18 saw spending on bank staff exceed agency staff spending and led to a £528m reduction in agency spend for the NHS.
- all Trusts in England have a target of reducing their agency costs by 17% for 2018/19.
The work by NHS Trusts over the last 3 years in reducing agency spending seems positive and NHSI believe more can be done.
Great progress is clearly being made to reduce agency spending. However, as part of this process, NHS Trusts should be cautious when managing its agency worker arrangements. In particular, NHS Trusts should carefully consider the contracts in place with employment agencies and look to avoid incurring introduction/transfer fees that may be levied by employment agencies if NHS Trusts transfer an agency worker to its bank staff.
The NHS could free up £480m to reinvest into NHS services and improve patient care if trusts filled temporary vacancies with workers from a ‘staff bank’ instead of using expensive staffing agencies