NHS Improvement has claimed that millions could be saved by the NHS if it used less agency staff and more bank staff to fill temporary roles.
Their belief is that up to £480 million could be made available for frontline care, improving patient care and services if workers from a staff bank were used to fill the majority of temporary vacancies, rather than agency workers.
On average agency staff cost 20 per cent more than NHS staff bank workers, hence the massive accumulative cost. This is despite the fact that the NHS has already cut its spend on agency workers by a third since a cap was introduced in 2015.
The NHS Improvement group is now pushing for a change in approach with a focus on bank staff first when recruiting temporary staff. Their aim is to reduce agency costs further by 17 per cent for 2018/19.
NHS Improvement chief executive, Ian Dalton, said: “Bank staff cost the NHS less than agency staff and could improve a patient’s continuity of care. That is why we want trusts to take a bank first approach and only use agency staff as a last resort.
“Temporary agency workers play an important role in ensuring staffing numbers remain at a level that provides the best possible care for patients and gives them the opportunity to work flexibly. But an over-reliance on high-cost private agencies when there are other options available is not good for patients or for the NHS’s finances.”
Health Minister Steve Barclay has agreed with the suggestions from NHS Improvement. He said: “It is better for patients to have the continuity of care from existing staff picking up additional shifts, rather than using agency workers.
“Not only is the patient experience improved, but moving away from relying on paying expensive agency staff also means that the NHS saves money.”