Agency workers

Nurses cleaning up

Agency workers and temporary staff in general are a widely used resource within the NHS and can play a vital role in helping NHS organisations to plan and manage fluctuations in demand, as well as covering for periods of short term workforce shortage. 

Temporary staff and agency workers in particular can prove an expensive resource for the NHS and as a result trusts are looking at options to reduce their temporary staffing costs.  To help you do this, the NHS Employers organisation developed resources to help employers reduce agency costs

We have produced a series of how to guides to help employers manage specific aspects of agency usage as well as identifying five high impact actions which have helped NHS organisations to manage their temporary workforce.  Our resources also include top tips and case studies from NHS organisations who have worked to reduce their agency spend.  

Price caps and wage rates

NHS Improvement has published consolidated guidance on the procurement of agency staff. From 1 April 2016 all trusts in scope of the rules are required to:

  • comply with a ceiling set for their total agency expenditure
  • procure all agency staff at rates set at or below the price caps
  • use approved frameworks to procure all agency staff.

Maximum hourly wage rates for agency workers will apply from 1 July 2016 and are set at a level similar to those of substantive staff. 

Ambulance trusts and ambulance foundation trusts are required to comply with the expenditure ceiling and use approved framework agreements from 1 April 2016, and apply the price caps and maximum wage rates from 1 July 2016.

The price caps do not apply to substantive/permanent staff, bank staff or staff employed on a fixed-term contract. 

Download the consolidated guidance which contains links to the list of approved frameworks agreements, and tables setting out the hourly price caps and wage rates for medics, dentists and Agenda for Change staff.

Further information on the agency rules can be found on the GOV.UK website.


Five high impact actions

To help organisations achieve reductions in agency spend, NHS Employers has identified five high impact actions for effectively managing your temporary workforce.

Agency spend logo

Reducing agency spend

Key points and suggested actions for employers in developing strategic plans for the temporary workforce which can help reduce agency spend and make the most of available resources.

Nurse taking notes

Agency Workers Regulations

Information and frequently asked questions on the Agency Workers Regulations which ensures agency workers receive 'equal treatment' to directly recruited staff.

Hospital and emergency staff

How to guides to help you reduce your agency spend

A series of how to guides to help employers reduce agency costs which look at different aspects of agency usage.

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