Report shows NHS trusts benefitting from ‘bank first’ cost savings around the contingent workforce

26 February 2019

A quarterly report on NHS temporary staff spending has shown a continued drive towards a ‘bank first’ approach amongst trusts in England.

The ‘Taking the Temperature’ report from services provider Liaison Workforce, shows that almost a third of all temporary staff are employed via a trust medical bank – arguably the most cost-effective way of filling NHS rota gaps.  Only two per cent of the contingent NHS workforce are now employed via standard placement, the most expensive employment option.

Andrew Armitage, Managing Director at Liaison Group comments: “Our figures clearly highlight the benefits in terms of cost savings for trusts adopting this staff employment route – saving an average of £302 on each Consultant shift booked through Bank rather than Standard Placement.”

Liaison estimates that the NHS could achieve annualised savings of up to £68m by sourcing all temporary workers through a trust bank.

The Taking the Temperature report also revealed that the biggest savings could be made by converting all Consultant bookings to bank.  The average standard placement rate for a Consultant was £137.48 during Q3, 24 per cent higher than the agency direct employment rate and 38 per cent higher than the average bank rate. A quarterly saving of £2.3m could be made if the trusts in our sample converted all agency direct employment and standard placement Consultant hours to bank.

Despite a recent focus on increasing mental health resourcing in the NHS, Consultants in Psychiatry continue to have the lowest average pay rates, even with a £3 increase to £87 per hour between Q2 and Q3. The largest reduction in average pay was seen in Obstetrics & Gynaecology, where rates fell by almost £6 to just under £90 per hour.

Encouragingly, the number of hours booked due to vacancy fell from over 80 per cent in Q2 to around three quarters of bookings in in Q3. However, increasing demands on NHS services during Q3 meant that almost 13 per cent of hours booked were the result of needing temporary locums to cope with service pressure, almost double the figure of seven per cent reported in Q2. Bookings made due to sickness also increased slightly by one per cent to 3 per cent of all bookings made –potentially reflecting winter staff sickness.

NHS trusts in the South Central region continue to pay the most for their temporary workers with the highest total pay and commission rate for GM ST3+ locums and the total rate rose by 5 per cent to just under £95 per hour during Q3. Trusts in this region now pay, on average, just under £40 more per hour than the South East Coast region who have the lowest rate at £54 per hour. This is the equivalent of £315 more per eight hour shift.

Andrew Armitage concludes: “Growing a medical bank has many benefits for a trust, not just in workforce cost savings but also in terms of staff retention and wellbeing and ultimately, patient safety.  Our TempRE bank service is app based – locums can sign contracts, confirm shifts and submit timesheets in real time. The app also enables bank workers to access live bank vacancies and apply for bank shifts ‘on the go’.  We’ve also seen locum conversion from use of the TempRE app by trusts creating working efficiencies for temporary workers.”

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