Jim Mackey (NHS Improvement Chief Executive) has confirmed the next steps towards spending controls for nursing, medical, clinical and other non-clinical agency staff. This includes a cap on agency prices from 1st February 2016. Before implementation of the 1st April target which will see a maximum payable of no more than 55% of the substantive worker rate. The aim is an agency worker should not be rewarded more than an equivalent employee, with the 55% uplift, (albeit some may view generous), approximate to employment on-costs as well as an administration fee/agency charge.
Children’s social work faces similar problems to NHS employers, with increasing agency costs and a perception that people are leaving substantive employment for greater rewards through agency work. There is no reliable data on how many people opt for agency assignments for increased remuneration, rather than other reasons, (including lifestyle choices), but the fear of this is enough. Local authorities are collaborating across regions, including London, to address supply issues and set maximum levels on agency prices. Click on the link (http://bit.ly/1QdZ3gY) to read the London Agreement.
The success of these approaches will ultimately turn on collective collaborative behaviour as well as managers’ compliance and unwillingness to rely on exceptional service demands to pay outside these constraints. The cultural expectations of the NHS and local authorities are to operate within policies/ procedures and therefore adhering to such agreements should not be seen as revolutionary or disempowering. The advantage to the Local Authority approach is ownership, NHS could learn from this; Council Chief Executives and Directors of Children’s services have chosen this route and own the solution. Heads of HR have made it happen. More work is needed on attraction and retention but development steps are in place
But overall, a renewed solution-based common sense approach to taking back control. Enabling agency resources to be viewed as valuable when plugging gaps, rather than an alternative to established resources, must be a good thing.
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