Watchdog to publish league table of NHS agency staff costs

17 Oct 16

Spending by hospital trusts on agency staff is to be published in annual league tables under plans issued by NHS Improvement today.

The watchdog published an update on the effectiveness of the cap on agency spending following its first year of operation. This found that overall spending had been slashed, saving the NHS more than £600m, and three quarters (73%) of trusts had reduced their agency spend.

Jim Mackey, NHS Improvement chief executive, said: “The progress we have made in a single year is really promising and trusts have responded well to the caps. They’ve worked hard to cut these bills and, in many cases, improved the way they manage their workforce.”

However, the regulator also issued new plans to ensure agency spending remained under control.

These include: the publication of league tables of agency spending on best and worst performing trusts; collecting anonymised information on the 20 highest earning agency staff per trust and any long-standing agency staff; and additional reporting requirements, including any shifts that cost more than £120 an hour.

NHS Improvement is also planning to introduce an approval process for the appointment of any senior interim manager costing more than £750 a day.

Mackey said: “We need everybody to pile in, and patients deserve that effort from us to make sure they’re getting the right care, from the right staff, at the right time. We’re committed to making sure hospitals can spend their money on their care and not on excessive agency fees.”

Medical agency fees are a particular concern, he suggested, with a third of the agency paying for interim doctors. “We need to ensure agencies and doctors do their bit to make sure they’re not overcharging.”

According to the regulator’s analysis, a further £102m could be saved if wage rates above the cap were brought down by just £10 an hour.

  • Vivienne Russell

    Vivienne Russell is managing editor of Public Finance magazine and publicfinance.co.uk

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