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New agency staff charge caps apply to NHS from today

  • 6 Comments

Caps on the hourly rate NHS trusts can pay agency staff come into effect today, as part of a government clampdown on what is viewed by ministers as runaway spending on expensive agencies.

The caps also follow the recent introduction of annual restrictions on how much trusts can spend overall on nurses from temporary staffing agencies.

From today, hourly rates for all agency staff in the NHS, including clinical and non clinical roles, will be limited with a view to bringing them down to 55% above permanent staff pay rates by April 2016.

However, following feedback from a consultation on the cap plans, the hourly rates restriction will not apply to bank staff.

In the case of band 5 workers, staff will have pay capped at £28.80 per hour during the day from today, falling to £22.32 per hour by April 2016.

Band 6 staff will have pay capped at £35.65 per hour during the day from today, falling to £27.63 per hour by April 2016.

Trusts will be expected to secure lower rates where possible, but the hourly rates are based on the 2015-16 pay scales, according to regulators Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority, which published the rates.

Nursing Times' Directors' Congress

Agency rules will not risk patient safety, says Ruth May

Monitor nursing director Ruth May

Meanwhile, from 1 October, trusts have been required to comply with ceilings for agency nurse spend, also set by Monitor and the TDA.

The annual targets apply to all NHS trusts and foundation trusts, but vary according to the amount each health service organisation is currently spending with agencies. They will not apply to healthcare assistants.

In addition, from 19 October, trusts have been banned from securing nursing staff – including HCAs – from agencies that are not on approved “framework agreements”.

Last month, Monitor’s senior nursing advisor Ruth May reassured trust chief nurses that the new agency rules could be breached on the grounds of patient safety, following concerns they could leave wards understaffed.

Speaking at Nursing Times’ inaugural Directors’ Congress, she told delegates she was “confident” the new controls would “increase trust bargaining power and they should enable trusts to manage their workforce in a more sustainable way”.

  • 6 Comments

Readers' comments (6)

  • The caps are on the amount the NHS can pay an agency for its staff not actually pay its staff.
    The reality is that most framework approved agency's will already sit within these thresholds and rates currently paid won't change that much for a vast majority of agency staff.
    The idea of the caps is to prevent 'off framework' agency's charging unfair rates.
    Most framework approved agency's welcome the caps to a degree but don't like the scaremongering or being labelled as 'rip off agency's' by Mr Hunt and his cronies - nor journalists writing poorly researched articles!
    Agency's and agency staff play a vital role in the NHS and shouldn't be the scapegoat for poor management over the years.
    So please before everybody leaves the NHS and moves abroad or into the private sector lets get the facts right.

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  • I am a hard working agency nurse with no sick pay, no holiday pay, no pension contributions and not to mention no job security.
    We provide a valuable service to the NHS, often picking up shifts very last minute that help to increase patient safety.
    On reading recently published articles with how much money senior management are not only making but also charging for expenses, it astounds me that we are not clamping down on these individuals instead of continuously hitting the front line staff.
    This is the last straw for me in this industry. I left my previous full time employment as a nurse due to a work injury which left me unable to work shifts in the pattern often demanded by management. I have never felt as uncared for in a profession and I will ensure that I look for a way out over the next few months, permanently. I'm sure I'm not alone with these feelings.

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  • Pussy

    If Bank rates were a decent agency would never have to be used!! It's not rocket science is it? The hospitals have put themselves in this pathetic mess,it serves them right.

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  • Agency's collate people from all around the world and provide a skill set that no bank could ever do.
    They list jobs from all over the country and provide support and compliance. They fill jobs at the drop of a hat and have massive niche knowledge about staffing and their marketplace.
    Not to mention the hoops they have to jump through to get people compliant.
    Bank's just aren't geared up to do that.
    Many agency workers are travelling or have re located to the UK and without the wicked agency helping them make choices the NHS would be in a very sorry state.
    Because banks only supply staff to their own hospital they can't offer the flexibility and variety that an agency can, some shifts at one hospital and some nights at another etc etc.
    I don't think you were directly having a pop at the agency's but banks simply don't come close to what an agency does, just paying more isn't the answer.
    Who pays for the banks internal staff and the cost of recruitment and what makes you think they are more efficient than an agency?
    NHS Professionals - the governments own agency send its jobs out to other agency's because they can't fill them themselves.
    Maybe not rocket science but not quite as straight forward as it may seem.
    People today want choice and freedom, do you really think that banks offer that?

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  • ANONYMOUS 23 NOVEMBER, 2015 5:35 PM
    "Banks" as they are currently organised cannot compete with private agencies, I'd agree. But there is nothing to stop Trusts doing the job properly, probably in cooperation with neighbouring trusts. It's the bureaucratic stodginess of trusts that needs a drastic shakeup. The bank system (as-is) is almost dead - scrap it and start something new... call it a "talent pool" or whatever. Pay substantive-plus rates, settle weekly, etc. It's ludicrously simple, really!

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  • 23 NOVEMBER, 2015 3:38 PM

    I feel for you.the NHS have lost so many well qualified staff through their appalling recruitment and retention strategies. Their own fault entirely but it impacts on vulnerable and blameless patients who merit this expertise. I had a fantastic career abroad without any regrets other than the indifference of the NHS towards its staff and earned as a nurse more than my whole time NHS consultant father which he found amusing to boast about. I think he was proud and a little envious of a daughter who up sticks and left with the promise of a good holiday venue for her parents. He retired beyond his official age as he wanted a few years to concentrate on clinical work and relinquish his admin. duties as department head after which he was headhunter for Oman but I was relievedhe opted, after a little reflection, for a quiet retirement at home where I could retreat for my holidays.

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