NHS attacked over ‘waste of money’ agency staff

By politics.co.uk staff

The Conservative party have criticised the National Health Service for paying temporary workers up to £188 an hour in order to meet staff shortages.

Figures obtained by the Conservatives through a Freedom of Information request asked NHS trusts to reveal the highest amount they paid to agency workers. A total of 70 per cent of trusts replied to the request.

The data shows that the Whipps Cross trust paid a non-NHS anaesthetist an hourly pay of £187.50, which would total an annual wage of £365,000, while the Great Western Trust paid an agency nurse a wage of £127.55 an hour, equivalent to a yearly wage of £248,000.

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said: “For years the Government have been telling us how many extra staff they have hired for the NHS. So surely we should have reached a situation by now where we no longer need to keep paying out millions each year to agencies and their staff?

“It is a dreadful waste of taxpayers’ money at a time when we can least afford it,” he added.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said temporary staff helped the NHS address staff shortages and enabled it to provide in-demand services to larger numbers of people.

“Increasing the quality of, and achieving best value for money from temporary staffing is an important aspect of workforce planning in the NHS. We are spending less on agency staff year on year.

“The total pay bill spent on agency staff has reduced from 5.5 per cent in 2003-04, to 4.2 per cent in 2004-05 to 3.5 per cent in 2005-06, 2.7 per cent in 2006-07 and 3.2 per cent in 2007-08,” she added.