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APSCo addresses Jeremy Hunt directly

In an open letter to the health secretary, chief executive of APSCo Ann Swain, who has already requested a meeting with Hunt which was declined, says, “Listening to your rhetoric and the media coverage at the time, it could appear to the uninitiated that the flexible staffing cost crisis in the NHS is solely and completely the responsibility of the UK healthcare recruitment sector.  The rising costs of temporary staff used by the NHS is caused by a much more complex set of circumstances, and is, I believe, a symptom of ineffective workforce planning in the NHS and a wider issue regarding clinical skills and staffing shortages in the UK.”

Correlation between use of temporary nurses and decrease of nurse training places

“There is a clear correlation between the continued rise in the use of temporary nursing staff and the decrease (of 16% since 2010) in nursing training places within the NHS.  There is now an approximate training capacity for only 21,529 nurses in 2015, which represents less than 6% of the total nursing staff within the NHS, and the situation is further complicated by the fact that 45% of the current nurses working in the NHS have the right to retire within the next five years.”

Inefficient supply chain

“There are a number of different purchasing organisations within the NHS covering the provision of staff each of which has purchasing framework agreements in place under which a variety of recruitment companies agree to provide staff at an agreed margin. Individual health trusts may decide to procure staff through any of these procurement bodies – or none. Recruitment firms therefore have to tender for a place on a number of different framework agreements with different purchasing bodies and also need to have individual agreements with trusts and hospitals that are not part of a framework. This is not an efficient purchasing model – particularly as it allows hospitals to recruit outside of any framework.”

Recruitment company margin is a small percentage of the overall cost of a temporary worker

“The vast majority of the cost to the NHS (bar the average recruitment company margin which, according our research undertaken with Deloitte stands at around 14% employment taxes and national insurance) goes directly to the worker. Interestingly, your comments about & lsquo;expensive staffing agencies’ charging up to & lsquo;&pound3500 a shift for a doctor’ did not acknowledge the substantial amount that would be paid to the doctor – I assume this is because they are not politically correct scapegoats – unlike the recruitment sector.”


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