Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

NHS Trusts Will Spend PS1.9m on Agency Nurses

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

NHS Trusts Will Spend PS1.9m on Agency Nurses

Article excerpt

Byline: Helen Rae Health Reporter

THE North East is on course to spend PS1.9m on agency nursing staff by the end of the year due to a "payday loan attitude towards workforce planning" in the NHS, a report has claimed.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) says NHS trusts in the region are expected to spend huge sums on temporary nurse cover in 2014-15, based on current projections.

A new report by the nurses' union reveals an unprecedented rise of 130% since 2012-13 in the amount the NHS spends on agency nursing staff.

Following Freedom of Information requests, the report shows that County Durham and Darlington is expected to spend the most in the North East by the end of the financial year at a significant PS1.6m.

This is followed by Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust at PS267,119 and South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust at PS48,890.

Not all trusts in the region responded to the FOI request for the time frame of 2014-15. Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN said: "This report shows the true financial cost of a health service which takes a 'payday loans' attitude towards workforce planning, leaving itself at the mercy of agencies because it refused to invest sensibly in the past.

"What it doesn't show is the cost to patients - over-reliance on agency staff is bad for continuity of care, and that is bad for patients.

"Cutting the supply of nurses was reckless and short-sighted but concerns were batted away in a misguided attempt to save money.

"The NHS is under immense pressure and it is now time for serious workforce investment and sensible, long-term workforce planning. Anything less will be selling future generations severely short."

The vast increase in agency spending follows a series of high profile national reports demonstrating the link between staffing levels and safe patient care and comes in the wake of winter pressures in A&E. …

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