The agency rules and collaborative working.

A blueprint for success?

Though the Department of Health introduced the Agency Cap Rules in 2015, NHS Professionals and a group of Trusts in the Manchester area have been collaborating in a successful Agency Partner Programme (APP) since 2012 – with an estimated saving of £3million on general nursing agency costs already achieved.

At the commencement of the APP preferential rates were negotiated with eight Agency Partner Suppliers. Despite agency rates increasing nationally, the Trusts worked closely together to stick to the negotiated rates. Having established the success and strength of a collaborative approach – both between the Trusts themselves and between them, their agency partners and NHS Professionals – the group were in a strong position to realign agency rates to the caps proposed by the NHSI when the Agency Rules were announced.

The group also agreed to match bank pay in critical care areas (theatres, A&E, HDU, ITU, Paeds) to encourage workers to return to the NHS and the Trusts’ banks managed by NHS Professionals. Despite increased shift demand, shift fill rates improved while agency use was reduced and agency rates fell – which meant, of course, that all the Trusts involved made substantial savings on their temporary staff budgets.


The success of this Agency Partner Programme, and the way it addresses the Agency Rules, makes it a potential blueprint for Trusts around the UK. By working in collaboration with each other, they will have the combined strength to ‘hold the line’ and make the sort of savings and efficiencies that have been seen in the Manchester area.

Colin McCready,

Chief Financial Officer, NHS Professionals

Colin McCready.jpg

The impact and improvements made in critical care by collaborative working in the Manchester area. 

This article is extracted from the NHS Professionals National Trends White Paper ‘Are the Agency Rules working?’

For more information about the NHS Professionals Agency Partner Programme and how it can help you and Trusts in your area, please contact our Business Development Team on  01923 690 532 or

About the author

NHS Professionals administrator

NHS Professionals manages the temporary staffing needs of around 66 NHS Trusts across England. An integral part of the NHS, it aims to reduce Trusts’ spending on flexible workers without compromising quality, by providing greater transparency of demand and supplying bank staff at the best possible rate. Its bank of more than 40,000 flexible workers comprises general and specialist nurses, doctors, midwives, admin/clerical , allied health professionals, healthcare scientists, support services among other healthcare professionals.

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