NHS organisations in England saved £660m temporary staffing in the last year by changing the way in which they appoint locum workers. More trusts and health boards now engage staff from their own substantive banks rather than booking through locum agencies, according to leading workforce services provider to the NHS, Liaison Workforce.
Since the introduction of staff banks, this is the first financial year where bank spend has surpassed agency, with the market now demonstrating a 55/45 percentage split in its temporary spend.
With four in five trusts now running their own banks, figures from Liaison Group’s annual ‘Taking the Temperature’ report 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 growth in the use of staff banks by the NHS provides an exciting opportunity for greater collaboration across regions or STPs, putting trusts in a better position to share temporary resources, particularly where specialties are in short supply.
Liaison Workforce works with NHS trusts and health boards, supporting them to develop internal and shared bank services that have become a preferred option for locum workers.
Liaison Workforce’s TempRE service is designed to support the NHS to better control and manage temporary staffing through a combination of services including agency direct employment – enabling NHS organisations to contract with and pay the individual doctor directly for the duration of the booking –and this reduces costs and increases control and visibility of rates and commission payments.
TempRE, a single integrated system supporting all worker categories, allows NHS organisations to prioritise and automate vacancy release: bank first, preferred or framework agencies second, multiple agencies last. The TempRE service also provides a weekly payroll service, taking away a key barrier to bank conversion.
CEO at Liaison Group, Andrew Armitage, comments: “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.”
He adds: “With a further increase in the use of medical banks, accelerated through the use of our TempRE service, we expect to see even greater collaboration and significant savings made on agency staff within the NHS.”
In the North East, eight trusts are successfully collaborating using Liaison’s TempRE solution to manage a shared Junior Doctor bank. In August 2018, the introduction of Liaison Workforce’s TempRE app enabled bank workers to access live vacancies and apply for shifts quickly and efficiently and this has been a great success in the North East.
Linsey Richards, Head of Human Resources, Lead Employer Trust, Health Education England, North East, reports: “The TempRE app has proved to be a great update for our collaborative bank. It’s prompted a marked increase in doctors applying for bank shifts and an uplift in our fill rates. The feedback from our workers tells us it’s easy to use and they love the ability to quickly apply for and confirm shifts on the go.”