The Government had a short consultation before introducing the maximum amount that NHS trusts could spend on hiring agency staff. This cap also covers the recruitment of IT contractors. Although the cap was introduced in early 2016, after so many months, there is still confusion over the rules that govern it.
However, Don Tomlinson of max20, an NHS IT jobs agency, said that NHS Improvement has published a document that outlines how the spending limit works, and agencies should make an attempt to read and understand this document.
The NHS cap governs the hiring of all agency staff, regardless of the skills that they have. It is applicable to medical and non-medical agency staff. Out of the medical staff, locum doctors and nurses make up the biggest category, while IT contractors and experts are the second biggest group after administrative and clerical staff in the non-medical staff category.
The rules stipulate that agencies that supply the workforce to the NHS are responsible for enforcing the rates, and if any agency is found to be flouting the rules, their name will be struck off from the supply framework.
These Agency Rules have been introduced to reduce the amount that NHS trusts spend on agency staffing, be transparent about the amount that trusts are spending on agency hiring, ensure quality when it comes to hiring medical and non-medical staff through agencies, and encourage staff to become permanent employees of the NHS.
The rules are applicable to all NHS trusts even if they are receiving temporary support from the Department of Health. However, not all members of the NHS fall under the purview of the new agency cap rules. Hence, an IT contractor should check with their agency as to the kind of organisation that they are being hired for. NHS members such as CCGs, commercial IT suppliers, Commissioning Support Units and Health Informatics Services are exempted from the agency cap rules.