NHS trusts may face penalties for unplanned over-recruiting practices

Since 2014, over 60 NHS trusts have been identified as having excess growth on their payroll due to over-recruiting staff. The regulator, NHS Improvement, is to penalise these trusts financially by setting new ‘control total’ targets. These targets for the year 2016 to 2017 will set out the expected financial performance that each provider must deliver. According to NHS Improvement, the cuts are necessary to reduce the pay growth in the NHS.

NHS trusts may face penalties for unplanned over-recruiting practices

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NHS Improvement

The new regulator, which took over staffing guidance work from NICE (National Institute of Health and Care Excellence) last year, plans to work on developing new guidelines for safe staffing with new metrics for more appropriate assessment of staffing levels required. Criticisms of the plans include the fact that it could lead to cuts in frontline nursing staff, impacting on patient care.

Cuts faced by the trusts

The trust facing the largest potential cut is the University Hospitals of Leicester Trust, which has had a £21m pay bill saving identified. The second largest potential target is faced by the Royal Devon and Exeter Foundation Trust at £15.6m. Other affected trusts with potential savings of over £14m to find include Barts Health Trust, Imperial College Healthcare Trust and Tameside Hospital Foundation Trust.

NHS Improvement intends to implement a series of interventions to tackle these financial problems. New financial special measures are to be introduced and the regulator has said that it will work with providers on the exact amount of pay bill savings that need to be made.

According to the Nursing Times, the intervention of the new regulator has been criticised for undermining and dismantling the official safe staffing work that had been completed by NICE in the previous year.

The need to reduce costs is necessary to support the continuation of the NHS, however, and the unplanned growth in costs needs to be controlled. Careful planning of clinical staffing solutions can assist with this and partnering with providers such as http://www.gandlscientific.com/ can help to ensure that the most suitable staff are recruited and that unmanaged growth is less likely to occur.

One aspect of the problem is the unregulated use of agency staff over the last year; therefore, better planning should have the effect of reducing this cost for some NHS providers.

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