NHS has spent £3billion on agency nurses to plug staff shortages over past three years

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By Shaun Wooller Health Editor For The Daily Mail

Published: 19:01 EST, 5 December 2023 | Updated: 19:20 EST, 5 December 2023

Hospitals successful England person spent much than £3billion connected agency nurses successful nan past fewer years, according to caller data.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) gathered figures nether nan Freedom of Information Act from 182 NHS trusts connected spending connected agency nurses positive nursing unit specified arsenic assistants and support workers.

The national said each region has spent millions of pounds, which it suggested could person paid nan salaries of almost 31,000 full-time nurses aliases trained much than 86,000 caller ones.

In total, NHS trusts spent £3.2billion betwixt 2020 and 2022, pinch nan London region spending nan astir astatine almost £630.5million, followed by nan South East astatine £582million.

Hospitals usage doctors and nurses arsenic impermanent agency unit to capable gaps successful rotas.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) gathered figures nether nan Freedom of Information Act from 182 NHS trusts connected spending connected agency nurses positive nursing unit specified arsenic assistants and support workers (Stock Image)

NHS England information shows that 1 successful 10 registered nursing posts stood vacant astatine nan extremity of September (Stock Image)

In England, spot leaders are allowed to salary a maximum of 155 per cent of normal unit hourly rates for agency staff.

They tin only salary supra this limit 'on exceptional diligent information grounds'.

Official NHS elastic unit banks besides beryllium which spot wellness workers pinch employers who request to capable impermanent gaps.

NHS England information shows that 1 successful 10 registered nursing posts stood vacant astatine nan extremity of September (42,306 vacancies).

RCN main nurse, Professor Nicola Ranger, said: 'Ministers person sewage their priorities incorrect – forcing trusts to squander billions connected agency unit while they supply miserly backing for adjacent salary and caregiver education.

'With cuts to caregiver acquisition and maintaining unfair salary levels, ministers are choosing to walk nan money connected overmuch higher backstage agency bills instead. This is yet different mendacious system erstwhile it comes to NHS spending.

'This should enactment arsenic a wake-up call. The Government must springiness nursing unit and patients nan finance and respect they deserve.

'Not acting now will mean moreover much patients connected waiting lists and nan situation successful nan nursing workforce deepening further.'

Shadow curate of state, Karin Smyth, said: 'The Government's nonaccomplishment to train capable NHS unit has led to spiralling agency costs to support nan wellness work afloat.

'Billions of pounds of taxpayers' money is being spent arsenic a short-term solution to unit shortages, alternatively of being invested successful nan NHS workforce, while patients person worse value attraction arsenic a result.

'Only Labour has a semipermanent scheme to renew nan wellness service. By getting nan NHS moving connected weekends, we will put £1.1bn straight into nan pockets of NHS staff, arsenic good arsenic delivering 2 cardinal much appointments a twelvemonth for patients.'

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: 'These statistic screen nan Covid pandemic erstwhile nan NHS was nether immense further unit and unit sickness rates were exceptionally high.

'While impermanent staffing allows nan NHS to meet fluctuations successful demand, we are controlling spending by capping hourly salary and prioritising NHS unit erstwhile shifts request filling.

'We person recruited much than 50,000 other nurses compared to 2019 – hitting our target early – and nan semipermanent workforce scheme is ensuring nan NHS has nan unit it needs complete nan adjacent 15 years truthful that patients proceed to person nan champion imaginable care.'