The costs of temporary agency staffing in health care continue to increase. The need applies mainly to doctors, but nurses are increasingly being hired as well. In 2019, the costs of temporary medical staffing to the regions amounted to approximately SEK 5.6 billion. This can be seen in a new report from the Swedish Competition Authority.
The report "Regioners upphandlingar av vårdpersonal" (Regional procurement of health care professionals) is a follow-up to a study on medical locum in primary care and the market for nursing staffing conducted by the Swedish Competition Authority in 2015.
"A lot has changed for the better over the last five years. For example, the regions have become better able to comply with the law on public procurement when purchasing temporary staffing services. But we also see that the need to hire health care professionals despite various efforts has not decreased during the period, the need has even increased," says Rikard Jermsten, Director General of the Swedish Competition Authority.
Many health care centres, especially in sparsely populated areas, still have difficulties staffing their health care centres with doctors and therefore continue to need to hire agency staff. The Swedish Competition Authority's report also shows that the issues with recruitment and need for temporary agency staffing identified in 2015 have now spread to other professions, especially nurses.
In 2019, the costs of temporary agency staffing amounted to SEK 5.6 billion. This is an increase of approximately SEK 1.6 billion since 2015. The explanation is partly structural. Few doctors choose to specialise in general medicine, which leads to primary care having difficulty recruiting doctors. The Swedish Competition Authority's survey also refers to health and safety problems, including heavy workloads. This makes it difficult for the regions to retain staff, and they are therefore referred to the use of staffing agencies.
The report notes that several changes have been made for the better since 2015, particularly in the regions’ procurement. The regions have become better able to comply with the law on public procurement and the need for costly direct award of contracts has decreased. The supply reliability of staffing agencies has also increased. However, challenges remain for the regions, not least in terms of contract follow-up work.
“One way to increase control and reduce the risk of illegal direct awards is to increase the use of electronic call off-systems. It would probably also reduce the risk of corruption. Greater national cooperation in the field of temporary medical staffing could also bring benefits. Not least when it comes to coordinating systems and procedures for follow-up and call-offs," says Rikard Jermsten.
The report "Regioners upphandlingar av vårdpersonal” (Regional procurement of health care professionals) studies the regions’ overall purchases of health care professionals in primary care, inpatient care and psychiatry from 2015 to 2020.
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