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NHS clampdown on staffing agencies saves £millions

According to the Department of Health, figures released by the health regulator, NHS Improvement, show the amount hospitals spent on management consultants fell by £42 million over the last few months. Spend went down from £145 million in July-September 2014 to £103 million in the same period in 2015.

The clampdown, part of a wider package of spending controls announced in June aimed at supporting hospitals to improve hospital finances, also aimed to limit the amount hospitals could pay for agency staff.

Hospitals spent £3.3 billion on agency staff last year, following a move to increase staffing levels on wards in the wake of the Mid-Staffordshire scandal. The government is targeting those agencies making big profits from this, while also incentivising NHS Trusts to employ permanent staff because they provide better continuity of care for patients.

NHS Improvement believes these measures will save up to £160 million by the end of the year, and remove £1 billion from the agency staffing bill by 2018.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt explains: “Our plans to clamp down on management consultants and rip-off staffing agencies are bearing fruit. Patients will see the reward with savings being reinvested in frontline patient care.

“I want the NHS to be the most efficient health system in the world and these figures show that, thanks to hardworking NHS staff and strong leadership, we can make savings and improve patient care at the same time.”

The savings form part of the NHS’s own plan for the future – ‘The Five Year Forward View’ – which the government is backing with £10 billion investment. The NHS has also pledged to make £22 billion worth of efficiency savings by reducing waste and increasing productivity to make the plan affordable.