NHS agency staff cap saves £600m

A cap on agency spending on the NHS which IT contractors’ recruiters feared would hurt the health service -- and its technology backbone -- has saved £600million, new figures show.

Compiled by NHS Improvement, the figures indicate that the cap has been a relative success in financial terms, since it took effect last October to cut the £3billion spent on agency staff.

In fact, almost three-quarters of NHS trusts have now reduced their spending on external agencies, and over half have reduced spending by more than a quarter, the regulator said.

But despite monthly outlays now being around 20% less than they were at the same time last year, around £250 million a month is still spent on external staff agencies, NHS Improvement said.

So a raft of new measures will be put in place to cut spending further, including the ‘naming and shaming’ of the best and worst-performing trusts and data collection on the costliest temps.

In particular, the regulator plans to collect “anonymised information” on the 20 highest-earning agency staff, per trust, and the data of “long-standing” agency workers.

There is also a plan by the regulator to introduce an approval process for the appointment of “interim [and] very senior managers” who charge over £750 per day.

“The NHS simply doesn’t have the money to keep forking out for hugely expensive agency staff,” said NHS Improvement’s chief executive Jim Mackey.

“Trusts have responded well to the caps. They’ve worked hard to cut these bills and, in many cases, improved the way they manage their workforce. But there’s much more to be done”.

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