Why recruitment frameworks create stability for the NHS

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With locum demand at its seasonal peak in the run up to and beyond the August changeover, it is more important than ever to source highly qualified and clinically experienced medical professionals, who will contribute fully to and sustain patient care, whilst the new and rotating doctors find their feet. The most important way that recruitment agencies, such as Total Assist Group, do this is by continually carefully adhering to frameworks.

So, frameworks refer to framework providers, such as the Crown Commercial Services (CCS), London Procurement Partnership (LPP) and Health Trust Europe (HTE). These framework providers are external organisations that help the NHS manage the hiring of locum staff; their key purpose to ensure the quality of the staff employed by the NHS, whilst providing pre-agreed financials so they act very much like a regulatory body. Strict employment checks ensure that patient risk is kept to a complete minimum. 55% of locum staff are hired through the use of frameworks, meaning that just under half of healthcare staff are being supplied outside of frameworks – with the onus and risk concerning compliance and employment checks falling back to the already incredibly busy NHS trust representatives unnecessarily, which clearly needs to change.

CCS is a government run framework provider, whilst LPP is a membership organisation, founded and funded by NHS organisations. HTE are a private company forming part of Hospitals Corporation of America.  Another aim of these providers is to reduce non-pay expenditure in order to release valuable funds that can be put towards patient care. Approximately 10% of NHS trust’s non-pay spending is on temporary staff, so being able to make the most of the purchasing power available is a big plus point of utilising frameworks – especially since the ‘Better Procurement, Better Value, Better Care’ initiative has highlighted the need to reduce costing in this area by 25% by 2015/16.

Why should agencies work within frameworks?

There are many benefits to keeping within the guidelines of framework procedures. For the NHS it is a vital quality control measure, and one that Total Assist Group are more than happy to abide by, since we have earned places on and have been awarded the highest bandings available at audit on each of these frameworks.

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Not only does it give the NHS a firmer criteria and support system for hiring their locum staff, but it also allows them to confirm quality, value and costs of various agencies, ensuring that they are spending NHS funding wisely and in the right places. Frameworks monitor the range of temporary doctors being supplied, ensuring that only high calibre candidates are used and they also frequently employ audit processes to confirm everything is ticking over nicely and that agencies are keeping up their end of the bargain. Frameworks can also offer some analysis on the locum supply, which is a really useful tool for NHS trusts to understand and develop their workforce needs.

The importance of demand management

The last thing anybody wants is to be overspending simply through disorganisation and not keeping track of the appropriate staffing levels and who is on site at any time. Some trusts have found themselves in this situation, with hospitals unaware of what locum doctors they had on site; paying 30% more than the national average rate; and having booked doctors working almost double the amount of hours they were contracted for. Keeping to framework policies avoids all of this, and clear communication through direct management is also a big help. Total Assist Group have combined our experience of 15 years trading in the healthcare sector and coupled this with experiences from personnel joining the team from both healthcare and non-healthcare sectors, to devise our demand management strategies.

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Effective workforce management has been said to reduce NHS trust expenditure on temporary staff by an impressive 15%, so it is important to get a stringent action plan in place, understanding hospital requirements and how agencies such as ourselves can help you meet them. Demand management involves efficient rota management, as well as a clear and uniformed lines of authorisation and accountability – perhaps with something even as simple as the trust representative who holds the purse strings being the signatory for locum time sheets can make a significant difference.

Tackling peak times

Total Assist Group is completely geared up to provide and cater for our contract clients, working under the frameworks. With this, we actively encourage clients to access the frameworks as we see the clear value in their existence and the desire to rule out the risks associated with rogue recruitment supply. We have utilised all of our resources, running extensive recruitment campaigns, to ensure we are ahead of demand and therefore ready to tackle peak season with an array of doctors available at our fingertips. You can also make the most of our experience to help put together action plans or demand management schemes – we welcome enquiries from new and existing clients to help achieve their cost saving targets.

[testimonial name=”Toby Colley” who=”Head of Client Services” imagelinks=”http://totalassist.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Toby-1-e1406714551521.png” vertical=”no”]”As Head of Client Services, I am responsible for business development, strategic planning and I have overall responsibility for the supply and sustainability of our services to our clients. I have been in the industry for 15 years, so please get in touch for any advice or help with your staffing requirements.”[/testimonial]