This week a cap on NHS agency staff spending has come into force in England in a bid to save over £1billion over the next three years.

The caps have been brought in following a clampdown by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt on “extortionate” agency fees. The NHS and its associated bodies will face tough caps on hourly rates, will not be allowed to use agencies that are not on an approved framework and consultancy contracts over £50,000 will require approval.

By April NHS Trusts will not be permitted to pay an agency worker over 55% more for a shift than they would be paying for a permanent member of staff.

Hunt argues that agencies are ripping off the NHS, but Trusts rely on the services due to chronic understaffing. However, in light of the cap, NHS Trusts will need to look at ways to improve internal efficiency in order to avoid increasing costs and lower existing expenses.

Business Improvement initiatives can be helpful in this respect. While something must be done to address the root issue of understaffing, Lean Six Sigma initiatives have been used to great effect within the NHS to save money which can then be redirected to areas in need of funds.

18 months ago, we delivered Lean Six Sigma training for several members of staff at NHS Harrogate and District Trust under the instruction of Blood Sciences Manager Les Phipps. The implementation put measures in place that saved an annual £500,000 from the department’s costs. In addition, a Lean Six Sigma project enabled the department to replace all of the equipment for cutting edge machines for the first time – saving even more time and resources in the long term.

Find out more about the implementation, and how it benefitted NHS Harrogate and District Trust by watching this video.

Lean Six Sigma cannot address the issues of understaffing and the reliance on agencies however it can help NHS Trusts to save money and improve morale internally, which can be a huge benefit for struggling departments.

In addition, with our new Training Bank you can invest you training budget and gain up to 25% additional training credits to spend on any of our training, coaching and consultancy.

To find out more about Lean Six Sigma and how it could help you, contact us on 0800 066 3749.