UK government sets limits on what NHS can pay agency staff
Source: Allstar Picture Library / Alamy
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
Recommended from Pharmaceutical Press
This new edition of Dale and Appelbe's Pharmacy and Medicines Law is the definitive guide to law and ethics for pharmacy practice in the UK. It covers law and professional regulation and is firmly established as the definitive student textbook and reference work on this subject in the UK. Fully updated to include changes to pharmacy laws and regulation.£57.00Buy now
Commonly known as the Orange Guide, this book is an essential reference for all involved in the manufacture or distribution of medicines in Europe.£82.00Buy now
Standards for unlicensed aseptic preparation in the UK, as well as practical information for implementing the standards.£46.00Buy now