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Temporary Staff

Volume 406: debated on Tuesday 10 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the use of (a) temporary nurses and (b) locum doctors in the NHS, with particular reference to NHS institutions covering Portsmouth and the rest of Hampshire. [115093]

A range of initiatives are underway to get better value for temporary staff in the National Health Service. Along with the roll-out of NHS Professionals, the aim is to reduce agency costs and to improve the quality of staff through agency framework agreements. Agency framework agreements fix the cost of agency staff, which can only increase in line with the recommendations of the pay review body.NHS trusts are using the national medical locum agency contract, with the contract value in the first quarter being £15 million. This is expected to show an average saving of 6 per cent. per trust on the medical locum expenditure per annum.The aim is to roll-out agency agreements and NHS Professionals to cover all aspects of the temporary healthcare labour market. This means covering not just nurses and doctors but also the Allied Health Professions and other healthcare professionals.Medical locums are already covered by a national agency framework agreement, and a NHS Professionals service for doctors is being developed.By ensuring that all temporary staffing demand is handled through NHS Professionals, the savings and outcomes from the agency project will be maximised. The new NHS Professionals Special Health Authority will enable better strategic management of the healthcare temporary staffing labour market and ensure that all NHS trusts are using NHS Professionals by April 2005.Hampshire and The Isle of Wight Strategic Health Authority have advised that trusts in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, including Portsmouth are working towards using NHS Professionals by the target date of April 2005 and are using, or working towards using, the national medical locum agency contract.