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29.06.15

Monitor team to tackle NHS agency staff spend

Monitor has set up a team of experts to reduce the amount of money being spent by the NHS on agency staff. 

The team has been set up to run an initial three-month trial at three foundation trusts, and comes after the regulator recently revealed that agency pay to contract staff at the end of the financial year amounted to £1.77bn, significantly higher than the £766m planned for the period. It was also up on the 2014 figure of £1.37bn. 

Monitor figures also show spending on temporary staff in the NHS rose by 29% to £2.4bn in 2013-14.

Support to the trusts in the trial will include action planning that will help foundation trusts deliver savings, and a diagnostic tool that will identify weaknesses in how trusts are managing their staffing. There are also a series of workshops designed to spread best practice within the NHS. 

David Bennett, CEO of Monitor, which will see its leadership merged with the NHS Trust development Authority later this year, said: “One of the biggest short term financial challenges the NHS faces is to reduce the use of agency and temporary staff. 

“We are offering practical help to foundation trusts who are struggling to reduce their agency bills, building on the letter I recently sent chief executives asking them to limit their spend on temporary staff.” 

If the trial is successful – by the end of August 2015 – the regulator will consider the appointment of a team of experts on a permanent basis. 

Recently the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, unveiled a package of tough new financial controls to clampdown on rip-off staffing agencies charging the NHS extortionate rates. 

However, his proposals, which include setting a maximum hourly rate for agency doctors and nurses, have received mixed responses across the industry. 

NHE is running a special investigation into NHS agency spending in our next edition, July/August 2015. 

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@nationalhealthexecutive.com

Comments

Himat   29/06/2015 at 15:48

Its nonsense to try to reduce agency bills by forced ceiling rates. Increase the supply of nurses by allowing English speaking nurses outside of the EEC to come to the UK and the rip off agency rates will disappear. The government has tried to recruit from within uk and EEC without success.

Sam.Arkhm   29/06/2015 at 19:25

Since monitor has NO expertise in this are of spend, I expect this just to be another Management-Consult feeding frenzy. Ernst&Young (etc.) will be jumping up and down with glee.

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