Recruitment body says agency cap forcing nurses out of the NHS

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) says agency price caps have driven professionals out of the NHS


As further restrictions are imposed on the use of agency nurses, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) says the price caps are already driving professionals out of the NHS.

Polling more than 90 healthcare recruitment agencies in England about the impact existing caps on the use of agency nurses have already had, the REC found three quarters said it has become more difficult to find doctors and nurses to fill temporary vacancies.

Since November, NHS trusts are no longer able to pay an agency more than twice the basic substantive hourly rate for a nurse. 

From today, this will be reduced to no more than 75% above the basic rate and from April the limit will be 55% above the basic rate. 

The REC claims the caps have not affected the level of demand, with 35% of recruiters receiving more than 100 requests for staff each week from the NHS.

Eighty per cent of recruiters said they supplied staff to the NHS on Christmas Day, 85% on Boxing Day and 85% on New Year’s Eve.

Seventy three per cent of respondents said it is harder to find professionals for NHS work since the cap was introduced and two thirds said they are now focusing on supplying the private sector.

REC chief executive Kevin Green said: ‘Experienced doctors and nurses are choosing to work for private healthcare providers, seeking opportunities abroad, or changing careers altogether to maintain their salary and flexibility.’

The Department of Health claims the caps will save £1 billion by 2018.

A spokesperson said: 'There are already more than 10,600 additional nurses on our wards since May 2010, but we know there are still challenges for hospitals.  The chief nursing officer [Jane Cummings] is working to improve retention across the service, while our recent changes to student nurse funding will mean up to 10,000 more training places by 2020.'

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