Magazine article Public Finance

Trusts Overspending on Nurses, NAO Finds

Magazine article Public Finance

Trusts Overspending on Nurses, NAO Finds

Article excerpt

Most of the savings NHS acute trusts have made in reducing their spending on nursing agencies have been offset by increased use of the in-house NHS Professionals agency and their own nursing 'banks', the National Audit Office has found.

In 2004/05, acute trusts spent £790m on temporary nursing staff - 9.4% of their total nursing spend, and down by just 0.6% since 2000, according to the NAO report Improving the use of temporary nursing staff in NHS acute and foundation trusts.

This is despite the establishment in 2001 of NHS Professionals and in 2002 of a framework agreement to set standards and maximum costs for supply agencies contracting to the NHS.

'Most trusts lack adequate control over their demand for temporary staff, and as a result total expenditure on temporary nurses has not fallen by any significant amount,' said Edward Leigh, chair of the Commons' Public Accounts Committee.

The failure to reduce the volume of temporary staff was due to a lack of knowledge about actual staffing needs on each ward, rather than staffing 'demands', which were often determined by historical levels rather than rational analysis, said Karen Taylor, director of health value for money at the NAO. …

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