Intermediaries charge the NHS half a billion pounds a year in agency staff fees.
The massive premium paid to local doctors and nurses on top of the sky-high wages can be uncovered by a postal audit today. Activists have called for action to prevent companies from “gorging themselves on NHS money”.
Agency employees were rewarded for a profitable year with a free trip to the Caribbean, where they were photographed sipping cocktails at a hotel.
Recruitment firms have boasted record profits due to increased demand during and since the pandemic.
Intermediaries charge the NHS half a billion pounds a year in agency staff fees
One director alone pocketed more than £500,000 last year.
The NHS is facing its biggest staffing crisis ever, with a shortage of 12,000 hospital doctors and more than 50,000 nurses and midwives.
Locums can be requested to fill any gap in the rota, from a single day to a month and even longer.
Sip cocktails as profits soar
As frontline NHS workers risked their lives in Covid wards, these ‘elite’ workers from a top locum agency sipped cocktails on an all-encompassing trip to the Caribbean.
Activists have claimed the image exposes the “wasteful practices” that “put salt in the wound” by health workers who have sacrificed everything. Cook Recruitment Group made a profit of £1.1million last year thanks in part to the placement of auxiliaries at more than 200 UK hospitals.
These sums could explain how it can afford to send members of its “Elite Club” on a week-long luxury holiday every year.
Directors David Cook, his brother Glenn and his wife Jenny have been posting record profits since the pandemic began as demand for labor soared. They pocketed £425,000 last year.
Cook Recruitment told the Mail it is providing staff on site “at rates set by the NHS” but accepted that those caps would be exceeded “from time to time” in exceptional circumstances.
Free ride: Cook Recruitment brought its “Elite Club” – including directors David and Jenny Cook, circled – to the Caribbean
The NHS in England spent £3bn of its total budget of £136bn on agency staff this year to fill gaps.
The Mail Audit examines the accounts of ten leading agencies. It shows that they keep about 20 percent of the money they charge to health care after they pay the workers’ wages.
That equated to £600million last year that could have been used for training.
Theresa Villiers, a former Tory Cabinet Secretary, said: “This is shocking and needs to stop. These funds should be used for patient care.
“Both the NHS and the Government need to get on top of this and bring those costs down. This is ripping off the taxpayer and the NHS.
A source close to Health Secretary Steve Barclay said the government will act to cut wasteful spending.
The insider added: “While we recruit thousands more NHS doctors and nurses, temporary workers will be needed to clear the backlog left by the Covid pandemic.
“We need to cut wasteful spending and ensure every penny of NHS money goes towards care for patients and not excessive profits for recruiters. We will take action against any abuse of the current arrangements.’
The audit also revealed that profit for the agency industry could have reached as much as £100m based on average margins of just over 3 per cent.
Cook Recruitment Group, which runs National Locums, Locum People and The GP Team, made a £1.1million profit last year thanks in part to NHS money from more than 200 UK hospitals.
National Locums bills itself as “a leading provider” of doctors and nurses for the NHS and private hospitals, and last year saw its revenue grow 14.4 per cent to £20m, entirely from fees.
Locum People is offering doctors a £250 reward for referring a friend who will then work 250 hours, with no limit on the number of colleagues they can refer.
A GP position in east London at National Locums was offering £950 for an on-call shift, which would equate to £247,000 a year.
An NHS GP typically earns between £65,000 and £98,000.
ID Medical Group Holdings – the agency’s parent company ID Medical – made a profit of around £3million, part of which came from fees it charges the NHS for hiring deputies.
His website boasts “over 1.6 million hours worked per year, often more” and claims that 95 percent of trusts “work with us on a regular basis”. It says it offers around 2,000 “doctor positions per month” on average.
A job offered by ID Medical last week offered a radiologist £40 an hour – an annual salary of £83,200. But an NHS radiologist job advertised in Stevenage, Hertfordshire offered a salary of between £33,706 and £40,558.
Cook Recruitment and ID Medical Group Holdings reported gross margins of 20 percent and 19 percent, respectively.
The doctor’s risk pays off
At the age of 83, Dr. Mo Sacoor no signs of slowing down.
The self-proclaimed “mad cardiologist and serial entrepreneur from Mozambique” founded the recruitment agency ID Medical in 2002 – and made more than £100m last year.
The parent company, ID Medical Group Holdings, made a profit of around £3million, part of which came from fees it charges the NHS for hiring deputies on its books.
ID Medical declined to comment.
Founder: Dr. Mo Sacoor
Another company, Medsol Healthcare, which has been supplying supplies to the NHS for more than a decade, boasted a “record first quarter on increased NHS demand” in 2021.
The company posted a profit of £1.8m on a margin of 8 per cent. Medsol did not respond to a request for comment.
In a bid to slash staggering agency pay of £400,000 a year or more, the NHS introduced a salary cap of 150 per cent of standard pay in 2015, but trusts can make exceptions where necessary.
Dennis Reed of campaign group Silver Voices said: “The Mail has identified a scandalous situation. These agencies are gorging on NHS money.”
Occupational health spokesman Wes Streeting said failure to train enough doctors has left the healthcare system “at the mercy of recruiting firms.”
He added: “Millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money are going straight into the pockets of recruiters while it’s impossible for patients to get a doctor’s appointment or surgery.”
Neil Carberry of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, which represents companies that provide temporary staff, said they have kept the NHS “on its feet”.
He said the margin agencies cover “things like Social Security and the security checks that companies have to do to make sure patients are safe.”
He added: “The real problem is that NHS staffing frameworks are not fit for purpose – the Government’s unwillingness to pay nurses and doctors what they are worth has meant more and more shifts are being turned down and most recently become more expensive – minute shifts are needed.’
David Cook, of Cook Recruitment Group, said: “The NHS couldn’t function without companies like ours.”
He said the firm is providing staff “at rates set by the NHS”, adding: “We are proud of the investment we are making in our team.”
ID Medical made no comment.
https://www.soundhealthandlastingwealth.com/health-news/middlemen-charge-nhs-half-a-billion-pounds-a-year-in-fees-for-agency-staff/ Intermediaries charge the NHS HALF A BILLION pounds a year in agency staff fees