A programme has been launched to help trusts get better value for money from agency nurses.
NHS Professionals, which is the health service’s in-house provider of bank staff, is attempting to re-position itself as a middle-man between NHS service providers and nursing agencies.
The government-owned company has launched the Agency Partnership Programme, which will see it draw up an approved list of agencies that agree better value rates and agree to meet strict NHS standards. Agencies “approved” by the programme will be offered to around 70 trusts that are currently bank clients of NHS Professionals, as well as other trusts as a stand-alone service.
It believes the programme could save trusts up to 10% of their temporary staffing costs and provide better assurance on the quality of agency staff working on their wards.
The programme has been piloted at the Royal Berkshire Foundation Trust, which said it had resulted in 15% savings on the cost of agency nurses. Miriam Palk, the trust’s clinical resourcing manager, said: “We had a culture of dependency on agency staff and many of our agencies were not on appropriate procurement frameworks.
“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.”
Keith Nash, NHS Professionals’ director of human resources, added: “Some trusts may be stuck in an historic relationship with their agencies which are not providing good value for money or whose staff are simply not fit for purpose.
“This programme helps monitor and control the cost and quality of their agency staff and build better partnerships for the future.”
NHS Professionals has approximately 40,000 nurses, doctors, and other healthcare staff signed to its bank.