New framework to help NHS teams 'fighting to control spiralling agency staff costs'

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
18 August 2016

A partnership of NHS procurement hubs has created a new national agency staffing framework designed to comply with a spending cap imposed earlier this year.

The National Clinical Staffing framework, which includes more than 400 agencies offering temporary and permanent staff, ensures hospitals are not charged more than limits that came into force on 1 April.

The cap, administered by NHS Improvement, stipulates trusts should not pay more than 55% above basic rates for temporary staff.

The framework requires every agency to be evaluated each year by an independent auditor, including checks on workers’ identity, right to work and qualifications.

The NHS Collaborative Procurement Partnership (CPP), made up of four procurement hubs, developed the framework, which it describes as “a major boon to NHS teams fighting to control spiralling agency staffing costs”. Last year such costs rose to £3.3bn.

The framework, which went live on 8 August, replaces the first national framework for nursing staff, which was launched in May 2014 and expires in September. This achieved savings of around £50m.

Alyson Brett, chief executive of NHS Commercial Solutions and sponsor of the new framework on behalf of the CPP steering group, said: “The NHS needs a fully comprehensive clinical staffing framework which supports it to manage temporary staffing costs.

“Above all, trusts need to be confident that they are employing high quality agency staff who will provide the best care for patients. This framework, which includes annual independent auditing of agencies providing staff to the NHS, a transparent pricing mechanism designed to flex if NHS Improvement changes rates or other employment criteria and ensures a recruitment process which is fully compliant with UK and EU legislation, does just that.

“In addition this is an NHS-built solution for the NHS. No element of the expenditure on agency staffing which goes through this framework ends up in private sector shareholder pockets, but is reinvested in the NHS.”

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