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

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?

John Chinery

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