Banking on a contingent workforce: Almost a third of NHS England trusts now employ temporary workers via a medical bank, and they’re reaping the benefits.

26 February 2019

In our latest ‘Taking The Temperature’ quarterly report into NHS temporary staff spending 31% of workers in our sample were sourced through trust banks, compared to 29% in the previous quarter. On average, a trust saves £38 per hour by sourcing Consultants through a bank compared to the traditional agency route and £29 per hour on ST3 locums. Recruiting all trust workers via a bank could save the NHS up to £68million per annum.

£68million per annum by simply switching the way that they employ a contingent workforce.

There have been concerns raised by HMRC recently into the ‘umbrella’ or ‘medical supply’ model of employing locums.  This method of employment not only incurs higher worker rates and commission costs for the NHS but is also means that the workers take home less pay, with less benefits. The medical supply standard placement model is also not wholly compliant with the tax treatment of temporary workers – a real and potentially costly concern to trusts who have been employing staff via this model.

Much better that trusts needing to fill gaps in the rota engage locums on an agency direct employment contract – using the staff as an extension of their own medical bank.  However, as our latest research shows, more and more trusts are adopting the NHSI led ‘bank first’ approach and increasing their own pool of ‘known staff’.

Liaison Workforce partners with around 11% of NHS trusts and health boards in the UK to develop internal and shared bank services through our TempRE service. Overall, we’re supporting some 24 trusts with a staff bank with 8,600 active bank workers registered on in house banks; managed using the TempRE service.

As well as shifting towards a ‘bank first’ approach, trusts are also achieving a reduction in spend through better rate control and collaborative reporting.

Through our NHS Directors’ Booking Rate Index, trusts can access benchmarking booking data which highlights pay and commission rates relative to other trusts in a region or organisation type, the NHSI caps and average rates locally.

Our clients also receive daily and weekly booking reporting detailing agreed rates, length of bookings and hours by role, ward and agency, giving them visibility and control over costs before the shift is worked.

Our staff have been able to provide advice and guidance on policy detail and next steps based on approaches proven to be successful in other trusts.

Now we’re scaling these benefits through the development of collaborative banks across regions.  In the North East and North Cumbria junior doctors and dentists are mobilising across a number of health trust sites via the collaborative bank route.  It’s a win-win scenario – doctors get to rotate across a region and can access weekly pay and live shift vacancies.   Trusts benefit from the junior doctors and dentists being more familiar with the working environments, filling the specialty rota gaps in the most cost-effective way and ultimately raising levels of patient safety.

The NHS contingent workforce is changing and we know that with our proven workforce services,  our clients can ‘bank’ on it.

Jack Mazzina, 
Business Development Director