Liaison Report Offers Insight into NHS Temporary Staff Spend

21 August 2018

Liaison Workforce report suggests £10million savings for the NHS by switching to bank staff rather than agency workers

  • 71% of NHS temporary staff are still being booked from ten agencies and between the most and least expensive agency, there is a difference of £30.30 p/h in total pay and commission for Consultants – the equivalent of an additional £242 per eight hour shift – despite the fact they are supplying the same grade of staff
  • The average total Consultant hourly rate booked was £142.91 p/h via Standard Placement, 35% more than the average Agency Direct Employment rate of £105.95 and 43% more than the average Bank rate of £99.64. If Consultant hours had been booked at the average Bank rate, the annual saving to the NHS on this staff group could be in excess of £10m
  • Brexit has had a knock-in effect on recruitment and staffing within the NHS by reducing the number of overseas nurses and locums to plug the workforce gap – dictating higher rates

Financial and workforce services provider to the NHS, Liaison Workforce has released the results of its annual ‘Taking the Temperature’ report which looks at anonymised temporary staffing data from around a quarter of UK NHS trusts.

The key findings show that temporary staffing booked via agencies is costing NHS trusts up to £30 per hour more for the same level of consultant.  The research also highlights that if temporary staff were employed via a trust’s bank they could be saving almost £50 per hour – equating to potential annual savings on this staff group in excess of £10m.

CEO at Liaison Group, Andrew Armitage comments: “Encouragingly, this 2018 annual Taking the Temperature report shows that levels of bank staff, particularly after the reinforcement of the IR35 legislation, have increased.”

He adds: “In 2016/17 we reported a huge increase in medical banks, with the number almost doubling across England to 67%. This trend is continuing and at the end of 17/18, an estimated four in every five trusts now have a medical bank up and running.”

The growth in bank provides a platform for greater trust collaboration across regions, STPs or even specialties. By working collaboratively, trusts are in a better position to share temporary resources across a number of trusts, particularly where specialties are in short supply as evidenced in this report.  In the North East, five trusts are successfully collaborating using Liaison Workforce’s TempRE solution to manage a shared Junior Doctor bank, with two more trusts joining later in the year.

Taking the Temperature figures show that NHS spending on temporary agency (non-contract) staff in England decreased from £3.07bn in 2016/17 to £2.41bn in 2017/18.

The main reasons for engaging temporary staff in the NHS were driven by the need to fill substantive vacancies – 78.9% of hours booked in 2017/18, a reduction from the 85.8% reported in 2016/17. Clash or a gap in rota accounted for 8.3% of bookings during the year, up from 6.3% in 2016/17, whilst service pressure accounted for 4.5%. This is likely to have had a negative effect on average rates booked during the year, as trusts struggle with increasing demand and limited resource.

Andrew Armitage comments “Recently appointed Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock talks about the need for flexible working within the NHS. Our data shows that if all NHS trusts were better able to manage annual leave, study leave and plug the clash or gap, then they would reduce the need to fill substantive vacancies by as much as 10%.”

He adds: “One way we are helping our NHS clients to do this is through our TempRE Rostering software solution. This includes the ability to manage rota schedules and apply the terms and conditions of service to the rota schedules.”

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