§ Mrs. Virginia Bottomley
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he imposes a ceiling on the rates paid to agencies for(a) nurses and (b) junior hospital doctors by the National Health Service.
§ Mr. Newton
[holding answer 19 November 1987]: When health authorities employ agency nursing staff they must follow Departmental guidelines which permit them to pay nurses agencies a maximum calculated on the mean of the appropriate NHS nursing and midwifery staffs pay scale for the grade plus the agencies' commission and the employer's national insurance contribution.94W
We have not imposed a ceiling on the rates paid to agencies who supply junior hospital doctors; but health authorities are advised to confine their use of such agencies to those complying with a voluntary code of practice issued in 1980, a copy of which is in the Library. This advises authorities to have regard to the rates of pay for directly employed staff, as determined on the basis of recommendations by the review body on doctors' and dentists' remunerations, when agreeing terms with agencies. I am aware that discussions aimed at reducing expenditure on medical agency staff are taking place within Trent, Yorkshire, Northern, Mersey, West Midlands and the four Thames regional health authorities. Officials are planning to meet representatives of the profession and senior National Health Service management to consider the issues involved.