Cookie policy: This site uses cookies (small files stored on your computer) to simplify and improve your experience of this website. Cookies are small text files stored on the device you are using to access this website. For more information please take a look at our terms and conditions. Some parts of the site may not work properly if you choose not to accept cookies.

Join

Subscribe or Register

Existing user? Login

sections

NHS

UK government sets limits on what NHS can pay agency staff

The UK government is introducing a cap on the amount of money individual NHS trusts in England can spend on agency staff. Health secretary Jeremy Hunt (pictured) is also targeting agency nurses by setting a maximum hourly agency rate

Source: Allstar Picture Library / Alamy

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt says NHS trusts will in future only be allowed to recruit agency staff from an approved list of providers

The UK government is introducing a cap on the amount of money individual NHS trusts in England that are under financial pressure can spend on agency staff.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt is also targeting agency nurses by setting a maximum hourly agency rate. Capped rates for other staff — including pharmacists and technicians — will follow in the future.

The announcement on 2 June 2015 is an attempt to reduce the NHS agency bill, which has gone up from £1.8bn to £3.3bn over the past three years. Trusts will in future only be allowed to recruit agency staff from an approved list of providers.

Hunt also revealed that the government is taking a tough line on trusts’ use of management consultants.

In future, all management consultancy contracts will be capped at £50,000. Any contracts above this figure will require prior approval from the regulator Monitor or the Trust Development Authority.

According to the latest annual NHS pharmacy workforce survey, the health service in England had 261.65 pharmacist posts (3.3%) filled by agency staff or locums in 2014. The number of agency or locum technicians was 156.92, making up 2.3% of the pharmacy technician workforce.

President of the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists Vilma Gilis says agency staff are employed to maintain essential services or to back fill if NHS-employed pharmacists have to take on extra roles, such as those relating to seven-day working. “The need for induction of agency staff would make short-term use of such staff unviable and frequently hospital pharmacies depend on overtime and goodwill of existing staff,” she adds.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2015.20068653

Have your say

For commenting, please login or register as a user and agree to our Community Guidelines. You will be re-directed back to this page where you will have the ability to comment.

Recommended from Pharmaceutical Press

  • Print
  • Share
  • Comment
  • Save
  • Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

Newsletter Sign-up

Want to keep up with the latest news, comment and CPD articles in pharmacy and science? Subscribe to our free alerts.