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In 2014, NHS agency staffing bills reached a staggering £3.3 billion. In his recent Review of Operational Productivity in NHS Providers Report, Lord Carter details how savings of up to £5 billion can be achieved, £2 billion of which could be delivered by improving workflow and containing workforce costs. This coupled with new financial controls announced by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to cut costs while improving care in the NHS has resulted in an increased emphasis on tackling staffing agencies.
The introduction of the Government cap on the amount NHS Trusts pay agencies for staff is intended to clamp down on rising NHS staffing agency costs. The new measures are designed to ensure that agency staff will be no better off than NHS colleagues, and put an end to unscrupulous agencies charging three times what NHS clinical staff might earn for a normal shift.
The opportunity to convert existing agency staff into permanent employees will certainly be attractive to NHS Trusts. However, it can be costly! Even though there are several approved Framework Agreements available to use, it appears many NHS Trusts sign up to agencies' own terms and conditions, which contain onerous charging provisions upon termination of the service. As a result, an increasing number of agencies are suing the NHS for transfer fees, placement fees, cancellation fees etc.
Our employment and litigation lawyers have helped a number of NHS Trusts by providing practical advice on liabilities under existing agency contracts in order to minimise financial exposure upon termination. Our commercial contract lawyers have also worked with NHS Trusts to reduce the risk of this occurring by producing a standard form of contract designed to provide a fairer, and more financially balanced approach to the supply of temporary workers in the future.
Our lawyers are focused on providing legal services to a select range of industry sectors. DAC Beachcroft is widely recognised as the leading strategic, commercial and regulatory legal adviser to the health sector in the UK. This enables experts in employment law, litigation and commercial contracts to work together as a multi-disciplinary team to offer a comprehensive and cost-effective solution to clients.
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