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Agency caps; too early to tell

Posted by
29 Mar 2016

It’s ‘broken record’ time again and another blog focusing on the implemented agency caps of November 2015 only this time, I thought I might offer more of an informative piece as opposed to my usual rant against the likes of Jeremy Hunt and his rather far-fetched opinions about our National Health Service’s demise into debt. Well, I’ll try!

The caps have been in place a good four months and as someone on the forefront of dealing with the restirictions, I thought I would write a blog focusing on how the caps have changed the way the NHS recruits across the interim market.

Firstly, If you’ve read my previous blogs, you’ll see that Sellick Partnership collectively supports the caps and everything they stand for. Far too often we come up against NHS providers of agency staffing avoiding protocol to significantly line their own pockets and the introduction of the caps mean that in theory, all agencies should be charging the same rather than what they think they can get away with. As a procurement recruitment specialist, I’m used to spending restrictions being that procurement are the ones enforcing them throughout the trusts, and my concern was that in such a candidate-led market, would requirements be filled at the reduced capped rates?

The interim market certainly hasn’t slowed down and as a team we are still incredibly busy with roles across all levels of procurement, finance & legal. The market is still very much dictated by the candidates; many haven’t dropped their rates and it is because of this that roles are more difficult to fill within the timescales that organisations have become accustomed to pre-caps. Over the past several years, candidates have built up reputations across the market and have in turn contributed to the daily rates they offer themselves at. What we are seeing is that organisations are compromising more when looking for candidates to fill roles, maybe taking someone at the band below in keeping with budgets and offering more on the job training to compensate. This doesn’t necessarily offer the ‘hit the ground’ candidate that all clients seem to desire.

Now the main aim of the recent imposted restrictions was to increase the number of candidates in permanent and bank employment across the UK –all I can say is, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink!! Salaries remain lower than those equivalent across the wider public sector and candidates have now become accustomed to the interim way of life. For most, the money comes secondary, it’s a lifestyle choice that offers the ability of being their own boss, flexible working hours and most importantly across the candidates that I’ve discussed this with, it offers them diverse work – no day is ever the same and they’re lucky enough to gain a lot of the different experience across various organisations which makes them so attractive to the clients in the first place.

Only time will tell with caps. It’s not the first shake up of the NHS and I’m certain it won’t be the last! Hopefully, candidates and clients will eventually find a middle ground and everyone will be happy but until then, I’ll not hold my breath!

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