High Impact Action 4: Work collaboratively

Hospital and emergency staff

09 / 9 / 2011 1.32pm

This could include working with others in your organisation such as working with other managers to share staff across work areas, or working with finance and workforce information colleagues to get better data on agency usage.

On a much wider scale, working collaboratively could mean trusts working together to develop shared banks or to negotiate prices with local employment agencies.

The examples below show how NHS organisations have been able both to achieve significant economies of scale through working collaboratively with each other through the development of regional hubs, and how in working in partnership with agencies, trusts have managed to drive down the cost of bringing in temporary staff.

Working closely with supplier agencies can benefit NHS organisations in a number of ways, most notably in terms of ensuring compliance with the necessary regulations and ensuring that demand is able to be met.

Under national framework agreements operated by organisations such as the Crown Commercial Service Frameworks, HealthTrust Europe or the NHS Collaborative Procurement Partnership which produced the National Framework Agreement for the Supply of Nursing or Nursing-related staff, there are potential economies of scale that can be realised through agreeing bulk contracts with suppliers. The NHS Improvement agency rules include a list of approved framework agreements which NHS trusts must use when procuring agency staff.

Develop productive working relationships with all your agency partners in order to ensure they know how they can best meet your requirements.

By developing effective working relationships with partner agencies, NHS Trusts can best manage their demand for temporary staffing and as a result reduce the cost of agency staff to the organisation.

These relationships can take many forms. On a simple level, working with agencies to analyse when and where the majority of your bookings occur can aid contract management and also help to ensure that the agency is able to provide you with the temporary staff you require. On a more complex level, many NHS Trusts and agencies are now looking at master vendor and neutral vendor supply models, which can go as far as allowing an external agency to run the organisations staff bank and therefore source the most cost effective employee to cover a vacant shift.

Working closely with agency partners also helps NHS trusts feel confident that they are being supplied with high-quality employees who meet the requisite standards to work within the NHS.  

Work with NHS procurement hubs in order to utilise the economies of scale that can be achieved through larger purchasing arrangements

NHS Procurement Hubs are able to work with NHS trusts to ensure that they are able to optimise value for money when acquiring resources through maximising economies of scale. With regards to temporary staff, hubs have looked at developing pricing frameworks with agency partners to supplement the various framework agreements that are in place across the NHS.

The NHS Collaborative Procurement Partnership is a collaboration of the four hubs - NHS London Procurement Partnership, NHS Commercial Solutions, NHS East of England Commercial Procurement hub and the NHS North of England Commercial Partnership Collaboration. Working together, the hubs have made available the National Framework Agreement for the Supply of Nursing or Nursing-related staff which helps trusts to manage their pay rates and maintain the quality of temporary staff provided.  It covers the recruitment of temporary and permanent staff from the UK and overseas. The framework agreement has a transparent contract pricing mechanism and NHS trusts can release efficiency savings through negotiating service level agreements and benefiting from additional discounts for volume of business agreed with the appointed framework agencies. 

Work with other neighbouring trusts to explore the possibility of setting up joint staff banks

In order to minimise the requirement for sourcing temporary staff through external agencies, one option available to NHS trusts is to look at setting up joint staff banks that can work across an area, meaning that when a department requires temporary cover they can explore the possibility of sourcing staff from another NHS organisation. Invariably this has the dual benefit of being significantly cheaper, and also ensuring that the temporary staff acquired are of sufficient quality.

Work collaboratively within your organisation to ensure that all relevant parties are involved in effectively procuring temporary staff

By involving service managers, employees, HR, finance and procurement professionals in the procuring of temporary staff, NHS organisations can ensure that they are accessing the highest quality temporary staff in the most cost effective ways. Whilst it may not be practical to involve all parties in every aspect of the process, it may be worth considering setting up an internal group to explore the process of employing temporary and agency staff.

Further details of case studies from NHS trusts that have put the five high impact actions into practice can be found here.  



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