New agency partnership will raise standards and cut costs in NHS
Wed, 20 Jun 2012
A new agency partnership programme launched today will help raise standards of compliance and cut costs, according to recruiters supplying staff to and working in the NHS.
In order to participate in the Agency Partnership Programme, Agencies will have to go through a rigorous process to demonstrate their governance compliance and “best value” rates.
Their processes will be calibrated against NHS recruitment standards, with successfully selected agencies becoming a programme partner. All successful agencies agree to a code of conduct covering the key areas of recruitment practices, compliance, placement and invoicing.
The programme, launched at the NHS Confederation annual conference today, will be made available to more than 70 NHS Trusts that currently use NHS Professionals’ managed service provider service or as a standalone service.
A spokesperson for Healthcare Locums tells Recruiter: “Anything that can raise the standards of compliance and parity of pricing is a good thing, and this will help.”
The spokesperson adds: “Over the past 18 months, the agency staffing market has consolidated driven, in the main, by the government led purchasing frameworks.
“These buying frameworks have forced agencies to bring down the cost of supply whilst increasing the standards of compliance. This trend is set to continue with the new clinical government procurement frameworks due in the autumn.
The programme has already been piloted Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust.
Miriam Palk, clinical resourcing manager, says: “We had a culture of dependency on agency staff and many of our agencies were not on appropriate procurement frameworks, presenting a considerable governance risk for the Trust. Our relationship with some of the agencies had also started to sour. Now we’re in a position where we have fewer agencies to deal with, we have confidence that they are all vetted, and we can benefit from competitive rates.
“This will ensure we can continue to uphold the best standards in patient safety and significantly reduce the burden of high agency recruitment costs.”
Keith Nash, NHS Professionals’ director of human resources, adds: “While widespread, long-term use of agencies to plug gaps in shift-fill must be avoided, there is growing recognition that for Trusts facing particularly pressing short-term difficulties or specific skill-set shortages, agency use may be both inevitable and appropriate.
This programme helps monitor and control the cost and quality of their agency staff and build better partnerships for the future.”