APSCo has reacted to the government’s own “knee-jerk” to ballooning agency costs in the NHS. It’s not surprising. As Ann Swain points out at length, the Conservatives have taken a blinkered peep at the reasons for the NHS’ £3.3bn outsourcing spend.
This short-sighted view means they’ve missed the underlying problem. The reasons they’ve attributed to the rise in costs – and measures they’ve taken to nip them in the bud – are thus controversial.
But as any political historian will tell you, this almost off hand attitude toward the Health Service is the way Tories have always viewed the NHS. Ever since the Labour government introduced the service way back in 1948, it’s been a Tory bugbear.
The full condemnation of the new managerial procedures you can find on APSCo’s website. The TL;DR version is there are fresh fears concerning the NHS. Both the aptitude of staff under the new cost constraints and the service’s overall ability to cope are in jeopardy under the new regime.
What and who are governed by the new rules?
There’s little time to get used to the idea of the new rules. They’re in effect now and have been since September the First.
One look at the government’s page of documentation that both NHS recruiters, agencies and framework owners says it all.
A 20-page document covers the nursing agency rules. There’s a separate document for Framework owners (and another for framework approval). There’s an application document for NHS recruiters to use if they want to engage staff from outside an approved framework. And if a Trust feels that their ceiling isn’t high enough, there’s a document to apply to adjust that, too.
Is that the comprehensive list of regulations for outsourcing NHS staff?
Absolutely not. The list covers registered nurses, midwives and health visitors. A new set of directives “will follow” for other departments who face “complex workforce challenges” when hiring contractors and agency staff.
What the government also recommends is that all foundation Trusts under the NHS umbrella comply. That’s even though the published legislation targets:
- all NHS Trusts;
- those in receipt of DoH interim support;
- those under whose past financial undertaking see them in breach of license.
The one department to whom the regulations do not apply is the ambulance service. That’s because the ‘staffing mix’ is already convoluted. Trying to bring that department under the same regimen would be folly.