Progress welcomed on the usage of agency workers

Date published: 13 August 2023

The Department of Health has welcomed significant progress towards the cessation of ‘off-Framework’ agency use in Nursing and Midwifery across NI’s health service.

The Department of Health and HSC Trusts have confirmed 13 August 2023 as the next key point in the drive to permanently end the use of such agencies. After that date, Trusts will not be permitted to engage “off-Framework” agencies (see notes 3 and 4 below).

The new Nursing and Healthcare Support Framework for the supply of agency nurses, midwives and healthcare support workers was introduced on a phased, transitional basis on May 15 2023.

Excellent progress has been achieved within this transitional period, with Trusts reporting a reduction in the use of “off-Framework” agencies from 72% prior to May 2023, to 1.5% in July 2023.

The Framework is a key mechanism in delivering a reduction in agency costs incurred by the health service in Northern Ireland. 33 suppliers have signed up to the new Framework.

DoH Permanent Secretary Peter May said: “I welcome the tremendous progress by Trusts in the cessation of the use of “off-Framework” agencies.

“Reducing the reliance on agency workers is the right thing to do. Building up our own workforce is the best way to ensure safe and effective care and is vital in order to rebuild our health and social care services across Northern Ireland.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Nursing and Healthcare Support Framework is a key mechanism in delivering a reduction in agency staff costs incurred by the health service in Northern Ireland. It establishes a list of approved suppliers who will provide agency staff when required at pre-agreed payment rates, set by contract.
  2. The initiative is central to the key goal of ending expenditure on “off-Framework” agencies not covered by contractual arrangements.
  3. Specific and separate contractual arrangements are in place in respect of Learning Disability Services in the Belfast Trust.
  4. There is also a complex case that is being supported by an existing off framework arrangement and for patient safety reasons this arrangement may be required to continue beyond 13 August 2023.
  5. For media enquiries please contact DoH Press Office by email:
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  7. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service For Media Enquiries Only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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