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High spending on agency staff by NHS is a “completely false economy,” warns BMA

BMJ 2022; 379 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.o2749 (Published 14 November 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;379:o2749
  1. Adele Waters
  1. The BMJ

The extreme staffing pressures being faced by the NHS have been brought into focus by new figures which revealed that trusts spent billions on agency and bank staff last year to meet demand.

With vacancies at a record high and shifts a struggle to fill, trusts were forced to break framework agreements that cap their spending on agency staff rates—something they are permitted to override in exceptional cases.

An investigation by the Labour Party showed that during 2021-22 60 trusts in England spent more than £800m on temporary staff and the total spend on bank staffing exceeded £1.7bn.

Extrapolating these figures to all trusts in England would mean that the total spend on temporary staffing across the NHS amounted to £8.9bn.

Figures revealed that one trust (Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in Swindon) had paid £2548.69 for a single agency nurse to cover a shift. …

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