Update on agency cost reduction drive

Date published: 21 December 2023

Northern Ireland’s health service is continuing its push to reduce agency staff costs.

Department of Health Latest News image white text on a departmental blue background
Department of Health Latest News image white text on a departmental blue background

A tender process inviting suppliers to join a new framework for the supply of professional and technical, allied health professional, support services, administration and clerical and social care agency workers for the NI health and social care service is currently live. The tender is due to close on 10th January 2024.

In October 2022, the then Health Minister Robin Swann said that “off contract” expenditure is not a cost-effective use of taxpayers’ money, and can lead to a lack of workforce continuity, with the potential to undermine safe care. This was in the context of a planned drive to reduce agency use in health and social care.

In June this year, the Department of Health confirmed that Health and Social Trusts would no longer be able to engage social work agency staff. In August, a new Framework for the supply of agency nurses, midwives and healthcare workers meant that Trusts are no longer able to use any off Framework agencies, where no contracted terms are in place.

Department of Health Permanent Secretary Peter May today said: “I very much welcome the ongoing progress in relation to reducing agency usage. The health service is facing a period of unprecedented budgetary pressures. Reducing agency spend is important and not just because of the costs involved. Staff have been clear that excessive agency use is unfair and impacts on morale. Importantly, having consistent clinical teams also enhances patient safety.”


Notes to editors: 

  1. For media enquiries please contact the DoH Press Office by email pressoffice@health-ni.gov.uk.
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  3. 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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