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NHS price caps and clampdowns: tales from the front line 2/2

It has been three weeks since NHS price cap guidance came out and in that time I have taken briefs on 6 new interim requirements. Three of the clients have not mentioned the guidance at all and we have entered into a recruitment process at market rate. One client said they absolutely had to have someone for a start on 16th November and they weren’t going to narrow my search further by giving me a depressed budget. Client five said we’d have to be aware of it, but there would be “plenty of ways around it” and perhaps we could write 60 hour weeks into the contract to optimise the rate for the candidate. It would up to the client to then manage the timesheets on that one.

Only one client has tried to follow the guidance, giving me a 410 / day budget on a 8c role. I politely said I wouldn’t be able to match any suitable candidates against the brief at that rate and offered to run a search at market rate. They accepted, but a week later went internal. And that of course is probably an indirect but welcome outcome for Monitor and the TDA; if a client thinks twice about trying to source an interim, because they know the guidance derived budget wont yield results, or because they don’t want an awkward conversation with their Director of Finance, then perhaps they will be that bit more motivated to consider the secondee or the acting up arrangement.

We’re still in the consultation phase, but if 1 in 6 is the compliance rate, the supply side and market rates will prevail, because the 16% of clients that comply will soon realise they are losing all the interim talent to the 84% that don’t. On 25th November George Osbourne will deliver his budget statement. If reports in the Guardian and Daily Mail earlier this week are to be believed he is planning a major clampdown on the UK’s c. 100,000 workers who operate through personal services companies. You’ll only be able to work for one month through a PSC, before having to be directly employed for the remainder of your contract by the client or agency. I personally think what we will see on 25th November will be a significantly watered down version of what the papers have reported, but it puts things into perspective, we’re worrying about a rain shower, there could be a hurricane blowing in.