Trust agency costs cut by £1m a year, compliance and quality standards raised
One of the biggest and busiest NHS trusts faced significant challenges in terms of the costs associated with temporary medical staff, and with a spend of more than £8m a year, the trust asked LPP to help reduce costs and improve service quality.
The trust used more than 90 agency suppliers, many of whom were not supplying against agreed and standardised charge rates with the result that there was a wide variation in pay rates and escalated cost to the trust.
In addition to this there was widespread use of agencies whose compliance with NHS Employment Check Standards was uncertain, which potentially presented a risk to patient safety.
The LPP solution: consistency, quality and stakeholder buy-in
LPP, together with the trust, undertook analysis of spend across three agency worker categories:
• Medical locums
• Agency nurses
• Allied Health Professionals and health scientists.
LPP looked at historical staffing requirements and identified suppliers who could best meet the trust’s needs in terms of cost competiveness, capacity to supply and compliance with NHS Employment Check Standards in order to help ensure high standards of patient care.
For medical locums and agency nursing the trust agreed to put in place lead agency arrangements, whereby two agencies were appointed as the trust’s lead suppliers of medical locums and agency nurses. Charge rates were fixed and Service Level Agreements put in place to help underpin the quality of the service provided. LPP also worked with stakeholders to get their commitment to making the changes work.
Because the Allied Health Professional and Health Scientist market is more diverse, the trust agreed to work with a smaller, prioritised list of suppliers, rather than putting in place a lead agency arrangement.
What was achieved: savings, compliance, clarity and control
The trust and LPP have achieved a number of cost and service improvements, including:
• an estimated £1m in savings in the first 12 months through more consistent pay rates and agency commission rates
• improvements in patient care as a result of all agencies now complying with NHS Employment Check Standards and agencies now being subject to an annual audit to ensure clinical governance standards
• a reduction in the number of suppliers, from almost 70 medical locum and agency nursing suppliers to two lead agencies.
• This reduction in the number of suppliers means that the trust now has better management information with better visibility of spend across the trust and an increased capability to control costs and drive consistent rates of pay.
What the trust said about working with LPP
“LPP didn’t just come along and present us with a report identifying the issues we had with agency spend – they actually went beyond that and identified solutions and helped us deliver change. This meant helping us resolve the issues that we faced along the way – including getting buy-in from internal stakeholders. All of this was achieved within a short timescale (less than six months) and we are now in the position where we are seeing the benefits in terms of savings, control of costs and quality of agency supply."
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