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What is a ‘Framework Agency’?

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From the 19th October 2015 NHS trusts throughout the UK will be forced to secure agency staff, should they require it, via a pre-approved network of agencies – ‘Framework Agencies’. 

Dubbed ‘Framework Agencies’, they have all subscribed to a framework agreement – a set of rules and guidelines set out by the government. You should seek advise from your agency to see if they have subscribed to the new guidance.

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Agencies are being assessed to join the Framework on an individual basis by Monitor and the Trust Development Authority and membership to the framework will be constantly reviewed to ensure high standards and compliance to the criteria.

RELATED: HUNT ANNOUNCED END TO ‘RIP OFF’ AGENCY NURSES.

In 2014/15, NHS providers spent £3.3 billion on temporary staff the primary aim of the framework is to reduce this spend. Monitor / TDA have established maximum agency budgets for each individual trust. The secondary aim of the framework is to bring greater transparency and clearer rules forward in the use of agency or temporary staff.

You can view the new rules regarding the use of agency staff for NHS trusts but the most important points are as follows;

  • Trusts must not exceed the maximum rates of pay which are published in their framework agreements.
  • Hourly price-caps are provisional and unpublished  they will remain under negotiation for the next few months and are expected to be formally set in April of 2016.
  • While maximum rates should not be exceeded, they equally do not have to be paid and trusts should use their resources wisely. Trusts are encouraged to negotiate the best deal they can.
  • Under exceptional circumstances trusts may use non-framework agencies but require prior approval from Monitor / TDA alongside evidence to support their request. They however must still stick to their maximum hourly rate of pay and the following information must be submitted; date, type of nurse, shift, reason for exceptional circumstance, price paid, name of agency and the name of the director who has submitted the request.
  • Trusts must stick to their annual agency spend budget.

It should be noted that these rules are not being enforced upon Foundation Trusts and trusts outside of NHS England – they remain in control of their budget / spend but they are encouraged to comply.

Below is a copy of the criteria set for framework agencies.

Framework Criteria

The rules for the use of agency staff are complex but have evolved under the framework to ensure a competitive market for NHS trusts. The overall aim of the changes is to provide a better standard of care at a better overall cost.

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Nursing vacancies hit record high leaving patient care at risk

It can be “dangerous” when there aren’t enough nurses to provide care.

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Patient Falls Risk with IV

There are now a record 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone.

NHS figures show that there are now a record 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone, according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

The College says a global shortage of nurses alongside the removal of the nursing bursary has compounded this figure which now sees 12% of posts through the NHS in England without a full-time Registered Nurse.

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Figures from the University and College Admissions Service (UCAS) show a 29% overall decline in applications to undergraduate courses since 2015, when the bursary was cut by the Government.

In a report released today titled ‘Standing up for patient and public safety’, the Royal College of Nursing outlines the evidence of the need for a new law that allocates specific legal responsibilities for workforce planning and supply.

A new law is needed.

The report states that in order to address the record number of vacancies, and the gap between the numbers of health and care staff needed to deliver patient care vs. how many are in the system.

Figures included in the report reveal that the number of nursing staff has consistently failed to keep up with the dramatic rise in demand for services and the number of emergency admissions.

The report finally makes a further call for legal clarity on the roles, responsibilities, as well as accountabilities, for workforce planning and supply.

In September, after pressure from RCN members, NHS England and NHS Improvement asked the Government for clarity over who is accountable for the nursing workforce.

‘Nurses are working harder than ever’.

Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said: “Nurses are working harder than ever to deliver safe patient care but are being held back by a system that is legally lacking teeth. Despite the public, patients and nurses all agreeing that clarity is needed on responsibilities for delivering enough nurses, we have yet to see any government pledge anything of the like, and as a result are staring down the barrel at a record 43k empty nursing posts.

“We know how dangerous it can be when there aren’t enough nurses to provide care, but at present, almost all accountability rests with the frontline nurse working on the understaffed ward, rather than those responsible for the system they work in.

“We believe the time has come for change and that patient care was future-proofed by law, and that from the government down, decision makers are held to account.

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NHS calls for clarity on who is accountable for the nursing workforce

Figures suggest there are around 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies throughout the NHS in England.

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Working nurses in the CCU

Healthcare leaders are calling for legislation to be included in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have called on the Government to clarify who is accountable for the nursing workforce and the chronic problems it’s currently facing.

Following ongoing pressure from nursing unions, the two organisations met today and recommend that the government should “revisit with partners whether national responsibilities and duties in relation to workforce functions are sufficiently clear.”

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With around 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies in the NHS in England and thousands more throughout social care, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) believes the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care should be legally accountable for the workforce.

Along with other health care leaders, Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive & General Secretary of the RCN, written to the Government calling for the legislation proposed by NHS England and NHS Improvement to be included in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech.

Staff shortages have reached ‘alarming levels’.

Responding to the news, Dame Donna Kinnair said: “We are pleased that NHS England and NHS Improvement has recognised the concerns of RCN members and the public and has stated that the issue of accountability for workforce planning and supply remains an area that needs be resolved.”

“In the week after we have launched a major public facing campaign calling for investment in the nursing workforce as well as for accountability to be clarified in the law, yet again, the case is made for this to be taken seriously.

“We are clear that government is well placed to determine how accountability can be clarified in law.

Adding; “Staff shortages have reached alarming levels with at least 40,000 vacant registered nurse posts in the NHS in England alone with thousands more vacancies in public health and social care.

“We now hope government will listen to this message, as well as the voices of the thousands of members that responded to the NHS England engagement process, and bring forward this legislation, taking the opportunity to include accountability in government and throughout the health and care system, for workforce planning and supply.”

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