Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust has become the first NHS trust in England to target improvements and cost savings in its use of medical locums, with initial savings of 3% in just four months, through a managed service from Comensura.
The three-year contract, awarded via the NHS NEOCPC framework, provides Harrogate with a single point of access for all medical locums, rather than the trust having to manage multiple recruitment agency supply chain relationships. Through its neutral vendor managed service, Comensura manages an extensive supply chain of recruitment agencies tasked with sourcing medical locums for the trust.
It was recently revealed that the NHS in England’s spending on agency staff has risen to £2.6billion a year because of some hospital trusts having recruiting and staff retention issues, with locum doctors being paid more than £1,700 per day. The UK market for medical locums is estimated by the Crown Commercial Service at around £1billion per year and on an average working day an estimated 3,500 locums work across the NHS.
Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust wanted to reduce the £2.8m it spent on agency medical staff in 2013/14 and, prior to the contract with Comensura, clinical directorates had limited access to information to allow them to manage the demand of temporary medical staff. Comensura’s service helps to ensure that medical locums are professionally sourced to the right standard and at the right price, with clinical directorates also now able to book the locums they require directly.
By moving to the new managed service, the trust expects to optimise what it pays for valuable medical locum resources, while ensuring accurate sourcing of the right skills against its requirements and also reducing the internal burdens of finding suitable providers, negotiating prices and terms and managing relationships.
Comensura has also implemented its c.net marketplace management technology to capture all orders and payment processes for medical locums. It has also appointed a relationship manager to oversee the contract and implemented a new team of advisors that will provide 24/7 customer service and support.
Harrogate NHS turns over £184m, has 523 medical staff and a total of 3,880 employees. It appointed Comensura using a direct call-off from the NHS North of England Commercial Procurement Collaborative’s (NHS NOECPC) framework for Medical Locums (Lot 1). This framework was awarded to Comensura in October 2013 and can be accessed by any NHS NOECPC member.
Polly McMeekin, deputy director of workforce and organisational development at Harrogate NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Sourcing medical locums is a major challenge for the NHS generally, due to the high level of demand and complexity involved in managing contracts with multiple recruitment agencies. But, with Comensura we are attracting locums from a broader range of agencies which is ensuring high quality. We’re also achieving good financial savings and receiving significantly improved management information to help us plan for the future.”
Jamie Horton, managing director of Comensura, added: “We’re delighted to have been appointed as the managed service provider to Harrogate. This is our first clinical customer in the NHS and to support them, we’ve made significant investment in new team members in both account management and customer service roles. This contract award is a significant development for Comensura and supports our strategy to move into new markets.”