Rising spending on NHS agency staff30th December 2009
Spending on agency staff in NHS hospitals has soared in recent years, according to new figures.
Over the last year, hospitals and NHS trusts responsible for community services spent almost £1.3bn on agency staff in England.
In one case, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn, Norfolk, paid a senior doctor £375 an hour while there are several examples of nurses being paid £100 an hour.
The rise – of 60% in two years – is being regarded by some as an indicator that permanent positions are being left unfilled as the NHS readies itself for a squeeze on funding after 2011.
The figures, obtained by the Conservative Party, come after government warnings for the NHS to prepare for tougher times ahead.
The £1.3bn spent on agency staff in 2008/09 compares with the amount spent during the deficit problems of five years ago.
Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley described the spending on agency staff as "a hugely wasteful way to run the NHS".
But Sian Thomas, director of NHS Employers, said: "We are facing a glum financial outlook and it may be that trusts are slowing down their permanent recruitment. We have to be careful we do not end up paying too much.
"However, appointing permanent staff can be more expensive if you are looking to change services as we will have to do."
The Department of Health said that temporary staff are continuing to play a key role in "helping the NHS to respond to fluctuations in demand for services and in staff availability".
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Title: Rising spending on NHS agency staff
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 13607
Date Added: 30th Dec 2009