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Almost all NHS trusts fail to comply with agency staff guidelines

Trusts are repeatedly having to use a clause that allows them to breach guidelines when patient safety will be compromised

Only 4% of NHS trusts are fully compliant with government guidelines on the use of agency staff, research has claimed.

Healthcare recruitment agency MSI Group received responses to requests under the Freedom of Information (FOI) act from 150 acute and mental health trusts in England.

The agency discovered trusts are repeatedly having to use a clause that allows them to breach guidelines when patient safety will be compromised and there is no alternative.

A total of 90% of acute and mental health trusts in England have been forced to exceed agency pay caps introduced last year, according to the research.

A MSI Group spokesperson said that 96% of the trusts questioned in the FOI admitted using both regulated and unregulated or so-called ‘off-framework’ agencies. The unregulated agencies are free to set their own hourly and commission rates.

MSI Group chief executive Nick Simpson said: ‘This research highlights the extent to which NHS trusts are being forced to break Monitor guidelines in an effort to protect patient safety.’

Earlier this month, the public accounts committee criticised the government for failing to tackle agency staff costs.

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