A new framework has been launched that is designed to give trusts access to nursing agencies that meet health service regulators’ criteria for the “cost-effective supply” of temporary staff.
The National Clinical Staffing Framework was launched on 8 August and provides access to a range of roles that are in line NHS Improvement’s pay and charge rate caps,
The pay caps for agency staff – along with ceilings on total trust spending on agencies – were introduced last year by regulators in a bid to help control spiralling temporary staffing costs.
- Pay cap on agency nursing to be introduced, says Hunt
- Government reveals pay cap for agency nursing staff
- Firms given ultimatum amid clash over agency pay cap
In late 2015, they set maximum rates that trusts should pay for temporary staff, which were lowered again in February and April 2016.
The framework will run for two years and replaces the first national NHS framework for the supply of nursing and nursing-related staff, which was created in 2014 and expires in September 2016.
So far, more than 400 staffing agencies have been awarded a place on the new framework, said the umbrella group of NHS procurement bodies behind the project.
The NHS Collaborative Procurement Partnership said all suppliers on the framework had been audited to ensure ability to comply with NHS pre-employment check standards.
The partnership is a collaboration between the East of England NHS Collaborative Procurement Hub, London Procurement Partnership, North of England NHS Commercial Procurement Collaborative, and NHS Commercial Solutions.
Alyson Brett, chief executive of NHS Commercial Solutions, said: “The NHS needs a fully comprehensive clinical staffing framework which supports it to manage temporary staffing costs.
New NHS agency staffing framework goes live
“Above all, trusts need to be confident that they are employing high quality agency staff who will provide the best care for patients,” she said.
She added that the framework included a pricing mechanism “designed to flex” if NHS Improvement changed its rates or other employment criteria.
It is one of 11 framework agreements that were approved in March by Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority, which subsequently merged to form NHS Improvement.
Other approved frameworks, covering a range of healthcare staff as well nurses, are being operated by Crown Commercial Services, HealthTrust Europe and the NHS London Procurement Partnership.