New measures have been announced by the government in order to clamp down on “rip-off” staffing agencies used by the NHS to plug gaps in nursing and doctor’s shifts.
As part of the measures a maximum hourly rate for temps will be introduced, as well as the capping the amount trusts that are struggling with their budget can spend.
However the agencies’ body say they are being scapegoated “for the NHS’s own mismanagement of planning their workforce”. NHS Trusts in England spent more than double the amount planned – nearly £2 billion.
The Health Secretary said that staff costs had spiralled out of control, with occasions where an agency nurse cost the NHS £2,200 for a 12 hour shift, and a doctor £3,700 for a 30-hour shift. Nearly £600 million was also spent on hiring management consultants.
The new measures will be brought in over the coming months, which include a cap of £50,000 applied to all management consultancy contracts.
Currently rates are negotiated by central government, with recruitment agencies adhering to them. . However under the new measures, agencies charging above the odds will be barred from use.
Mr Hunt told the BBC: “The NHS is a public service and needs to show restraint on handing out generous pay packages as a matter of course.”
“Expensive staffing agencies are quite simply ripping off the NHS.”
“It’s outrageous that taxpayers are being taken for a ride by companies charging up to £3,500 a shift for a doctor.”
“The NHS is bigger than all of these companies, so we’ll use that bargaining power to drive down rates and beat them at their own game.”
Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, suggested that the rising costs are partly due to more nurses on hospital wards following the inquiry into the Stafford Hospital scandal.