Clinical and healthcare staffing

The new Clinical and Healthcare Staffing framework has been designed to meet the temporary staffing demands of the NHS, writes Tim Smith

The NHS has been under immeasurable pressure in the last 12 months; the Covid-19 pandemic has seen hospitals dealing with unprecedented levels of patients and the biggest vaccination rollout the health service has ever seen.

According to a recent poll by the Health Care Supply Association (HCSA), the primary concern for trusts is staffing. The NHS is reliant on people to keep its critical services running and a high vacancy rate, a drop in the number of people choosing nursing as a career, and a rising demand for complex services and care has created a perfect storm. In a report published by the Health Foundation in December 2020, authors raised concerns that nursing shortfalls coupled with the backlog in routine care and growing need for healthcare is likely to make recovering from the pandemic slow, complex, and challenging.

The NHS requires a flexible workforce to meet the changing requirements and cover areas such as sickness and long-term leave. The NHS Workforce Alliance offers a solution for trusts to plug that gap and ensure critical health services continue.

NHS Workforce Alliance has been using specialist category knowledge to develop frameworks that support the NHS and wider public sector to ensure a sustainable workforce model for the future.

NHS Workforce Alliance recently launched the Clinical and Healthcare Staffing framework, a streamlined service for the recruitment of all clinical and healthcare staff. The new agreement replaces the CPP/PiP National Clinical Staffing and the Crown Commercial Service RM3711 Multi-Disciplinary framework.

Tim Smith, Assistant Director of Workforce at NHS London Procurement Partnership led the procurement on behalf of the NHS Workforce Alliance.

He said: “Bringing the best parts of these two frameworks into one agreement has enabled us to make improvements in specific areas such as incorporating lots that cover social care and emergency services that were not available under either of the previous frameworks. The new Clinical and Healthcare Staffing framework has been designed to meet the temporary staffing demands of the NHS. As well as offering a mix of nationally recognised suppliers, the agreement also offers the NHS and wider public sector a choice of niche regional and niche discipline suppliers; keeping the service responsive to need and allowing trusts to find the best possible solution.”

The NHS Workforce Alliance puts patient safety at the heart of all our frameworks and services and the safeguarding of patients is key to our audit strategy.

Joanne Barton, who oversees the NHS Workforce Alliance audit programme, said: “As part of our efforts to create strong relationships within the industry, we have developed a robust supplier relationship management programme that includes a rigorous audit programme. All suppliers appointed to the framework have a dedicated point of contact within the Alliance enabling them to better inform us of any issues or market trends to be aware of.

“All suppliers on this framework were subject to pre-award and had to pass with a minimum 80 per cent score. We take great pride in the robust nature of our audit process; all suppliers on the Clinical and Healthcare Staffing framework are subject to the full audit regime and customers can also request an ad-hoc audit of a supplier that they have concerns over, and any supplier who fails their audit is suspended, until the necessary improvements can be demonstrated through a re-audit. Customers have full access to all audit reports, enabling them to manage any local risks as appropriate.”

As an NHS organisation, we understand the pressures and complex, changing demands faced by trusts, and we can help support you with your temporary staffing requirements. As well as supporting you with workforce issues, any potential savings we help you generate can be invested back into the NHS.

Tim Smith added: “As well as being approved by NHS England and NHS Improvement, our framework rate cards are in line with their caps, ensuring trusts are able to fill roles while maintaining compliance with spend caps. We have also made the transfer fees terms and conditions clear and simple to understand, allowing trusts to facilitate agency
worker transfers appropriately and compliantly.

“As part of our coming together as an Alliance, we have a much bigger field of data available, which we use to plot regional and national trends, supplier trends and opportunities, as well as to support local and regional strategy development. There’s a lot we can contribute to the market and the NHS with the information available to us.”

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