The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) has criticised the Department of Health for implying that recently-introduced price caps for staffing agencies have saved the NHS millions of pounds.

In a statement published earlier this month, the Department of Health said figures released by health regulator NHS Improvement showed the amount hospitals had spent on management consultants had fallen by £42million as a result of a crackdown on the use of agency staff.

However, APSCo said that while figures compare spending between July and September 2014 with spending between July and September 2015, the price caps and framework mandates were not introduced until November 2015.

APSCo Head of External Relations Samantha Hurley, said: “This is an artfully worded announcement which I believe has been purposely drafted in such a way as to mislead the audience. The headline, and indeed the nature of its content, suggests that limiting the amount that hospitals can pay for temporary staff is having a measurable effect on expenditure – but there is absolutely no evidence of this.”

According to APSCo, while the new measures were announced in June 2015, they were not implemented by health services sector regulator Monitor and performance management body NHS Trust Development Authority until November 23rd 2015, so the NHS Improvement figures could not have been influenced by them.

NHS England Head Simon Stevens has meanwhile continued to accuse staffing agencies of “ripping off” taxpayers, telling MPs that the anticipated £4billion bill for temporary workers such as Umbrella Company Employees accounted for “the vast majority if not all” of the record £2billion-plus deficit NHS trusts are expected to run up.

Hurley said that according to APSCo members providing clinical/medical and non-clinical/non-medical staff, the move to mandate frameworks implemented mid-October was starting to have a positive effect, removing the off-framework expenditure related to the headline charge rates used by the media.

However, Hurley added feedback on the introduction of rate caps for temporary staff suggested NHS trusts were being forced to again go off-framework in order to maintain patient safety levels.

She urged Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to engage with APSCo to help the Department of Health clearer understand the sector and “how to maintain a healthy, competitive, but fair and transparent recruitment supply chain”.

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