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Cutting NHS agency staff costs

Published: 3 Dec 2015 00:01

Dedicated team to address spending on temporary staff.

The Scottish Government and NHS National Services Scotland (NSS) have launched a new initiative to drive down the cost and usage of all temporary agency staff ensuring financial targets are met across NHSScotland.

The new programme aims to help NHS boards develop and implement nationally agreed best practice to manage the use of temporary agency staff and reduce overall costs.

A dedicated programme team, known as the Managed Staffing Network team, will work with Boards to develop a clear understanding of their requirements together with best practice guidance and support tools to manage bank and agency spend, and workforce planning.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said:

"Under this Government the number of NHS employees has risen to a record high, with over 1,000 additional nursing and midwifery staff recruited in the last year alone. We've also introduced mandatory nursing workforce planning tools, which are playing a part in the further expansion of our nursing workforce.

"Both the overall rate of nursing vacancies and spending on agency nurses are lower today than when we came to office – since 2007, agency nursing and midwifery costs have reduced by 13 per cent. In 2014/15 agency staff made up only 0.3 per cent of the total nursing and midwifery workforce.

"However we know that we need to address the complex issues which influence the recruitment and retention of Scotland's NHS workforce.

"We are committed to ensuring that we continue to strive for the best possible quality and value for NHSScotland from all our suppliers, and this new team is another asset to help us achieve this. We are working closely with boards across Scotland to implement a range of measures to support the recruitment and retention of staff."

Jim Miller, Director for Procurement Commissioning and Facilities, NHS National Services Scotland, who are leading the scheme, said:

"All organisations have a need to recruit staff on a temporary basis, to cover for unexpected events or fill gaps. But in the NHS it is important that we so this as efficiently as possible, so that we make best use of public money.

"National guidance already exists. This scheme should support NHS Boards to deliver on that guidance, so that every part of Scotland makes the best use of their resources."

Notes to editors

The Nationally Coordinated Programme for the Effective Management of Temporary Medical Staffing Appointments includes:

  • National coordination of staff banks to facilitate the movement of temporary workers between NHSS Boards by agreement. The Group will support NHS Boards with the practicalities of implementation and by agreeing the solutions and approaches to HR and terms and conditions issues.
  • A dedicated team to work at national and local levels to join up with other programmes relating to workforce management and e-rostering. Initial funding for the team will be provided by NSS.
  • Additional resource to work with NHS Boards to develop local strategies and interventions aimed at system improvements for the use of temporary agency workers.