We have provided the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we receive from recruitment agencies and temporary staffing businesses. Read on to find out when new NHS temp staffing tenders and frameworks will be released.
When will NHS Recruitment Agency Tenders be re-tendered?
The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) new frameworkHealth Sector Resourcing (HSR)RM3833 for perm recruitment, agency workers and temp staffing was due be re-tendered in October 2018 but was delayed until the New Year 2019 and has faced further delays leading into the new financial year April 2019. The CCS is the first recruitment agency framework owner to announce they are going back out to tender in 2019.
The new CCS commercial agreement HSR RM3833 was due to replace all CCS' existing recruitment agency resourcing agreements and workforce bank staffing agreements, expiring summer 2019. HSR RM3833 would provide a commercial route tosupply the NHS with permanent recruitment, joined up bank and clinical agency solutions and tailored resourcing approaches.
To date the CCS have released the workforce management framework with the non medical non clinical agreement expected in April 2019.
Will the CCS NHS tender be SME friendly?
CCS had responded to concerns raised by recruitment agencies emphasising there will be 'fair competition' irrespective of the scope and size of the HSR framework agreement. With SME’s, micro businesses and charitable organisations encouraged to review the CCS tender documentation. CCS insisted their new Health Sector Resourcing framework agreement would support the governments agenda to spend £1 of every £3 spent with Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) by 2020. 41% of CCS' current spend (within the health sector resourcing category) is with SME"s.
Will the CCS tender include international Recruitment?
There was much debate over the need for a permanent workforce solution and international recruitment for the NHS. CCS had included these elements into the new CCS tender to support foundation trusts and NHS trusts to provide patients consistently safe, high quality, compassionate care, within local health systems that are financially sustainable.
Which recruitment frameworks are NHS Approved?
Agency staffing spend in the NHS is closely monitored by NHS Improvement. Supplying to the NHS is not as easy as it once was, since the implementation of Agency Rules. An NHS Trust can only use agencies who are on an approved framework agreement. The names of the approved agency framework owners are:
HSR RM3833 would have provided recruitment agencies (who are not currently on the above agreements) with a route to supply the NHS with clinical temp staff and non clinical temporary workers, compliant with the Agency Rules.
The approved NHS recruitment framework agreements will expire in the next 18 months:
Recruitment agencies were unfairly criticised in 2015 by the Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt as "ripping off the NHS" they argued they did not create the demand for temporary workers and the press had capitalised on extreme fee examples. NHS Improvements own data confirmed, as of September 2018, there were 36,000 nurse vacancies in England of which 92% were covered by bank and agency staff.
Mr Hunt took steps to reduce the dependency of the NHS on agency workers and the use of temp staffing. NHS Improvement implemented Agency Rules in October 2015 with a projected saving target of £1 billion in year one. The policy saved £600 million but eventually achieved the target on the 28th February 2017. Despite numerous positive press releases from NHS Improvement, the spend with non framework recruitment agencies still exists.
What factors contributed towards a shortage in NHS staffing?
A lack of national workforce planning and migration policy has severely dented the UK's ability to recruit nurses and other health professionals from other countries. The number of new nurses coming from the EU to work in the UK has also dropped by 87% from 6,382 in 2016/17 to 805 in 2017/18. The number of nurses barely grew between 2010 and 2017. A shortfall in permanent staffing drove up the use of temporary staffing, in the NHS which pushed up NHS agency staffing costs, triggering the arbitrary top-down national cap on agency fees. This has impacted negatively on NHS employers ability to respond effectively to changes in workflow and patient dependency levels. NHS Trusts continue to override price caps and find work arounds to their health sector resourcing problems.
The governments focus on containing temporary staffing costs, rather than addressing the underlying reasons for temporary worker usage has left the NHS depleted. Reactive and short-term solutions to tackle current problems have only put a sticking plaster on deep-seated and systemic problems. NHS temporary staffing needs to be effectively integrated into longer- term workforce planning rather than last minute and reactive strategies.
The majority of people do not think the NHS has enough staff to provide current services. The most recent data on the NHS workforce in England shows vacancies for nursing and midwifery posts continue to rise at a historically high level with 34,700 vacancies advertised in the first quarter of 2018.
How will the Health Sector Resourcing (HSR) RM3833 tender be structured?
CCS has hinted, HSR lotting will be designed to encourage mini competitions but are adamant, only recruitment agencies applying for the ‘flexible bank Lot’ will be required to operate staff banks.CCS also rebuffed complaints about 'off framework spend and off framework suppliers' and remain committed to Agency Rules.
Many of the details surrounding individual lots (including quality assurance and compliance standards) remain in the developmental stage. CCS intend to include neutral vendor, master vendor, PSL and MSP models but maintained their stance on not including a specific lot for direct engagement.
CCS' HSR framework agreement is a response to customer requests for ‘one agreement’ open to all wider central and local government customers with clinical staffing needs. Social Workers will also be included within the scope of HSR.