Sam Gallagher, Executive Director, Business Development at Skills for Health comments on the Government’s announcement on new measures to “cap” spending on staffing agencies:
“Bringing in framework agreements that can standardise payments and ensure that agencies adhere to this is a sensible move by the Government and shows its commitment to streamlining the finances of the NHS to ensure improved patient care overall. However, it’s important that both the Government and the health care sector recognise that this is just one factor in clinical workforce management and deployment.
“Workforce planning has always been a difficult task meaning organisations must scan the horizon for changes in patient needs and adapt the staffing rotas accordingly. All this must be achieved whilst monitoring and maintaining the skills and competencies of all the staff appropriate to the service and ensuring patients are met by the right person with the right skills at the right time.
“It should be acknowledged that many NHS Trusts are already committed to workforce planning and Skills for Health works in consultation with organisations across the UK to achieve good practice in this area. Services such as Realtime Rostering, DRS (Doctors Rostering System) and the Six-Step Methodology to workforce planning and management are very much about moving away from “quick fixes”, and working towards low-cost, long term solutions to the challenges of workforce planning.
“In reality, to effectively manage the workforce across the UK’s largest employer, the NHS, and provide good quality care for patients, agency staff are a vital part of this “mix”. Given this, the key to a successful and financially effective workforce is to invest in readily available and robust workforce planning tools to deliver services with the appropriate workforce that can flex to meet changing patient demand. The result is a reliable, sustainable and efficient safe service where education and skills are maintained and monitored.”