The Employment Confederation has delivered a particularly spiky in response to the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt’s comments about ‘unscrupulous’ and ‘rip-off’ agencies while elucidating on his plans to cap agency spend in the NHS

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s director of policy Tom Hadley commented in a written statement: “Yet again, the Secretary of State is grossly misrepresenting the role agencies play in supporting the NHS, and scapegoating agencies for years of poor workforce planning by the government.

The overwhelming majority of trusts use frameworks to obtain agency staff, where pay rates are negotiated and set by NHS trusts and central government. The Secretary of State is deliberately presenting extreme, outlier, off-framework instances as if they were the norm,” Hadley continued.

Currently the average band five nurse earns £20-£25 per hour and an agency A&E doctor earns around £60 per hour. On top of this agencies tend to levy a fee of between 10-20 percent to cover the costs of recruiting and vetting the worker. For this fee the agency also has to commit to any training updates and revalidation checks for the worker.

“When you take into account the shifts that an agency nurse or doctor would work, their pay often equates with a permanent NHS employee,” Hadley added.

“Far from ‘ripping off’ the NHS, recruiters are working all hours to make sure our wards are safely staffed. Even Monitor’s own recent report on NHS trust finances acknowledged that increasing agency spend  was due to increasing demand and skills shortages, not escalating or ‘rip off’ rates.”