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NHS Spending £1.46 Billion on Agency Nurses: Healthcare Recruiter Responds


Following new research from the Open University, which found that NHS trusts in England are spending at least £1.46 billion each year on temporary nursing staff, Healthier Recruitment has urged hiring managers to consider the benefits of long-term strategic workforce planning.

The Open University’s report, Tackling the Nurse Shortage, is based on Freedom of Information requests to 241 NHS trusts. The data shows that almost £1.5 billion is spent on bank and agency nurses annually. Furthermore, according to the report, if the hours currently worked by temporary staff were instead covered by permanent nurses, the NHS could save as much as £560 million a year.

Commenting on the data, Michael Johnson-Ellis, Managing Director at Healthier Recruitment, said:

“Despite the introduction of agency caps in 2015, designed to stem the use of ‘rip-off’ staffing agencies within the NHS, too many hiring managers within the health service continue to automatically turn to short-term solutions to address skill shortages.”

“While we understand the pressure that trusts are under to maintain safe staffing levels at all times, particularly at short-notice, there needs to be a change of mind-set.”

“We fully support the position of Jan Draper, Professor of Nursing at the Open University: there needs to be a sustainable solution that increases and enhances the nursing workforce in the mid and long-term, to ensure that our health services are protected against future changes and hardships.”

“The Open University’s report mirrors our own findings around the significant savings that can be made through replacing temporary staff with permanent or fixed-term hires. While there will always be a place for agency workers within a wider strategic workforce plan, hiring managers can often benefit from objectively reviewing their existing rosters to determine where savings can easily be made. For example, by looking at where full-time, permanent roles can be created from several positions currently being plugged by temps.”