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Regulators reveal new hourly pay rates for agency nurses


Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority have published details this afternoon of the hourly rates that NHS trusts will be allowed to pay agency staff from Monday.

In a key concession to the provider sector the regulators have decided to exclude bank staff from the hourly rates cap although this could be brought in at a later date if the cost of bank shifts rises significantly.

Detailed tables setting out the hourly rates for all staff groups have been published this afternoon. The rates will progressively fall from next week to 55% above permanent staff pay by April 2016.

The hourly rate caps for include:

  • Band 5 staff will have pay capped at £28.80 per hour during the day from 23 November 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 23 November falling to £27.63 per hour by April 2016.
  • A medical consultant will see their hourly rate capped at £97.22 from 23 November falling to £75.34 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.

The agency caps apply to all NHS trusts and foundation trusts and cover all staff groups on both Agenda for Change and medical pay frameworks in both clinical and non-clinical roles.

The price caps do not apply to staff employed by ambulance trusts.

In its consultation response published on its website, Monitor said many trusts had raised concerns around patient safety and the potential difficulty in safely staffing services.

It stated: “We recognise these risks. However, the financial impact of doing nothing, and the increased reliance on agency staff, could present a similar or even greater risk to patient safety and access.

“The initial price caps would be around the median of rates currently paid and this is intended to allow time for the sector to adjust to the new rules,” it said. Trusts have asked for price caps to help them get a grip on agency expenditure and it is trusts’ responsibility to manage their workforce safely.

It added: “Trusts have primary responsibility for patient safety locally and the ‘break glass’ clauses are intended to allow trusts to override the price caps if there are exceptional patient safety grounds.”

Monitor said it would also expect new weekly reports from trusts to oversee the impact of the price caps on patient safety, service performance, and agency, bank and substantive workforce numbers.

“The focus now and in the long term must remain on ensuring that the NHS attracts the right number of people with the right mix of skills and experience to meet the local needs of their patients”

Saffron Cordery

In addition to hourly rates for temporary staff, Monitor and the TDA have also set ceilings on the amount individual trusts must spend on nursing agency staff as a percentage of nursing turnover. This is intended to eventually bring all providers’ agency spending to within 3% of their overall nursing costs.

New frameworks for approved agencies have also been established and trusts are barred from using off framework suppliers unless they meet specific exceptions and seek regulatory approval.

Saffron Cordery, director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, which represents trusts, said: “The implementation of hourly price caps for all agency staff and a cap on management consultancy spend has the potential to be a key part of returning the NHS to financial balance which is critical given the provider sector deficit of £1.6bn at the mid-point of the year.

“The success of the price caps will depend on all providers adhering to them so it is positive that Monitor and the TDA have listened to and responded to consultation feedback from providers,” she said.

“The full benefit of these measures will take time to realise and the focus now and in the long term must remain on ensuring that the NHS attracts the right number of people with the right mix of skills and experience to meet the local needs of their patients,” she added.


Readers' comments (20)

  • There is no possibility I will go back to working as permanent staff in an NHS hospital for a pittance of a salary, which is being held down by government restraints, whilst my cost are increasing.

    Specialist theatre nursing deserves to be recognised, RGN nursing after 5 years of training and a medical degree, deserves a commensurate pay.

    NHS pay is insufficient to put up with the politics and bullying, at least working for myself, I can choose where I work, not so with permanent staff, you are stuck.

    So, it is time to vote with my feet and move to a country that has more respect for professional staff, regrettably this is no longer the case for the NHS.

    I suspect the NHS will go on a recruitment drive to other countries for staff, and won't they be in for a surprise when they discover what it costs to live in the UK.

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  • Hardly an incentive for highly trained nurses to seek work when their pay is being drastically reduced. I accept agency staff may appear to have a higher rate of pay, but they receive no sick pay, training, or pension contribution. The nursing profession is being eroded drastically and no longer attracts the best candidates. I would never advise anyone to contemplate a career in nursing.

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  • I expected to see howls of outrage here - I don't think people have yet cottoned on...?

    The rates quotes in the story above are what the NHS will pay TO THE AGENCY. Subtract the 55% markup the agency will be allowed to claim and that will leave the amount paid to the nurse. So, for example, a Band 5 will get £14.40 per hour. These maximum rates are supposedly "voluntary" but trusts will need to justify exceeding them to Monitor/TDA.

    If YOUR agency is telling you anything different I'd be interested to hear about it.

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  • I notice bankers don't have their pay capped, we nurses bailed them out, neither do MPs get their wages and expenses capped

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  • HCSW

    So.. as of the 23rd November, to celebrate that 'great victory', every permanent RGN should receive a few £ per hour increase. There was many other safer options than the cap: permanent staff could get time and half for working extra, ward managers could get powers to employ 110% needed staff (to cover holidays).

    I am not affected by the above, but I know, that I am the next one to have salary 'market adjusted'. Enhancements are the next to be capped.

    How about the safe staffing ratio?

    This is a part of the very mischievous plan to privatise the NHS. There will be not enough staff (or poorly motivated), more wards will be closed. Clever.

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  • I am in the middle of applying to university to study nursing and reading articles like this really makes me think about the difficulties i might face when i am a nurse. Although, not enough to change my mind. I think there will be many people in my position who might read this and reconsider their career.

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  • A cap on agency nurse hourly rates will affect safe staffing. Why work for less when the cost of living is increasing. Why use nurses as scapegoats. How about caps for MP'S, bankers etc. This drive will encourage nurses to look for work in the private sector.

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  • Without the pay to entice me I certainly won't bother working the extra hours, not on the bank or via an agency, then the wards can remain understaffed until a few people die and the Daily Mail get angry. And if overall pay rates stay poor then we'll take our taxpayer education and go abroad. Ta very much.

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  • Above: don't confuse a nursing qualification with a medical degree!

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  • Looks very reasonable. Still excellent rates of pay.

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