NHS Employers launches guide to help cut agency staff costs

A guide designed to help the NHS manage its temporary workforce and find the right mix of staff as it seeks to cut £500 million of agency spending by 2013/14 has been published by NHS Employers and the Department of Health.

Flexible workforce: strategic planning to reduce costs and improve quality” is designed to help service providers make the most efficient use of temporary staff, reduce agency costs and ensure that there is a supply of staff with flexible skills available to provide the highest levels of care for patients.

The resource includes information and advice on flexible-workforce requirements, strategic options for managing the temporary workforce, and a flexible-workforce checklist and flowchart.

Clare Chapman, director-general of workforce at the Department of Health, said: “We are in the process of a culture change within the NHS, where the provision of well-trained temporary staff, delivering high-quality levels of care, at reduced costs, has become a financial imperative. High levels of agency expenditure in the NHS are not acceptable, from a cost and a quality of patient care perspective.”

Gill Bellord, director for core services at NHS Employers, added that for the NHS to achieve significant efficiency savings – while not adversely affecting patient care – will rely greatly on its ability to manage its flexible workforce.

“A key challenge is to develop the skills of organisations in planning their workforce to ensure they supply a high-quality staff best suited to the needs of patient care,” she said.

At its annual conference in Liverpool this week, NHS Employers also launched a new NHS wellbeing at work guide aimed at supporting NHS organisations in reducing staff sickness and absence. The Boorman review found that the NHS could save £555 million per year by improving its approach to staff sickness and absence.

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