NHS will clamp down on ‘rip off’ agency fees – Telegraph

Two women walking outside an employment agency.

Two women walking outside an employment agency. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a good article from the Telegraph. Check it out!

via NHS will clamp down on ‘rip off’ agency fees – Telegraph.

Unfortunately, I fear that the Telegraph misses the point.

Firstly, employment agencies are charging exhorbitant fees in a market-place where competition is increasingly restricted. Big one-stop shops, like Capita, are taking the cream. It’s perhaps time for the EU competition authorities to investigate?

With modern technology, there’s no justification for agency fees above four percent. Most of the agency employees are not skilled, just deploying key-word searching. They should be engineered out of the industry.

Secondly, recruitment practices in the NHS and public sector need serious reform. They should be using their own agency pool, excluding third-parties, like Capita.

Thoughts?

3 responses

  1. The NHS intervention to reduce “rip off” fees by imposing ceiling prices would achieve market failure. Either no one is prepared to work – or only sub-standard workers can be mustered.

    But here’s some real, practical things the NHS could do which would open up competition.

    1/ Self Billing – providing a timesheet utility to the self employed where that person can produce invoices using a NHS system rather than the self-employed person having to maintain their own systems of billing and admin. The idea is this would be interoperable across all health facilities (hospitals, GPs etc)

    2/ NHS to maintain a database of candidates including keyword skills, availability, as well as a database of health facilities and contacts and requirements. There would probably see resistance to this process from entrenched interests, but if the political will was there it could happen.

    3/ Two-way interoperability to hospital calendars and scheduling systems. Many locum workers are already employees of the NHS. This feeds into the “availability” in idea 2. It therefore would remove the army of administrators and back office managers attempting to get people to work overtime via face-to-face at present.

    4/ Alerts – SMS and email alerts using a database of keywords to notify subscribers about upcoming requirements. Hyperlink to accept the assignment feeding into the idea 2 and 3 above.

    5/ Present the locum as a valid and high-profile career choice to medical schools and medical students, nurses and health practitioners. Currently it is seen as an option for those not good enough to get a proper job. Part of this would be to provide senior mentors to temporary, interim workers and loci, as well as a professional body and association. We have a “GP” as a general practitioner – maybe invent the “IP” – the interim practitioner?

  2. Having read the Daily Telegraph article, brought to us by Dr Alf, and watched the head of the NHS, Simon Stevens on the Andrew Marr show, I am unimpressed and underwhelmed.

    To begin with, the NHS is useless at manpower planning and rostering, which is why over the weekends there are never enough nurses and doctors and during the early parts of a given week there are too many.

    Instead of smoothing the peaks and troughs with more flexible working, better contracts and annualisation, the NHS uses agencies and then claims it is being “ripped-off”.

    Secondly, the NHS does nothing to manage malingerers in GP’s surgeries, usually whining pensioners and others with hypochondriac tendencies who could deal with their own minor problems but who instead clutter up the 101 non emergency phone lines and then go to A&E when they cannot get a GP appointment.

    This spike in demand made worse by people “larging-it up” in nightclubs, getting high on “recreational drugs” and fighting in the street then adds to the demand for extra doctors and nurses which these agencies fill.

    Thirdly, the NHS does a poor job of educating people into not drinking on an empty stomach, eating properly, getting some exercise and losing weight.

    It always focuses on the supply-end, the number of doctors and nurses but never the demand end which creates the need for more supply in the first place.

    Fourthly, it is a bit rich for the NHS to complain about “being ripped-off” by agencies when its own blunders cause 20% of the entire NHS budget to be spent on payoffs to sacked staff, lawyers, gagging orders and the like.

    Fifthly, the NHS has far too many layers of management and is the first to pay-off someone on Monday and then rehire them, sometimes as soon as next Monday as highly paid interims working for agencies and personal service companies.

    Of course, interims who could help reform the NHS who have non NHS experience are excluded because they lack the “essential” NHS experience.

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