An agency nurse was paid £2200 for working one 12-hour shift in an NHS hospital, a Freedom of Information Act request has revealed.
The Telegraph reports Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust paid the record sum over £183.33 an hour as hospitals became reliant on locum medics to fill staff shortfalls as the recruitment crisis in the health service continues.
Some doctors were able to charge up to £3,200 each per shift for working in Accident and Emergency departments over the winter – £1000 more than the average worker in the UK would take home each month. Colchester Hospital in Essex was put into special measures as a major incident was declared after a surprise A&E inspection and some NHS trusts became almost entirely dependent on agency staff.
The response from the Trust said that 47 agency workers were employed by them last December.
The salaries were condemned by Jonathan Isaby from The Taxpayers’ Alliance who said “Taxpayers will be aghast at the cost of just one shift.
“Agency nurses are far more expensive than their regular counterparts and we have to minimise the number used.
“You can’t open a newspaper without hearing how tight finances are in the NHS, but the Service has to become far more efficient with the money it already has.”
Edmund Stubbs from the Civitas think tank said it was “evident” that a lack of staff was causing “excessive spending on agency staff, locums and overseas recruitment.”
UKIP candidate for Telford and the Wrekin, Jill Seymour, said the problem lay in the education and training of nurses with many not choosing the career due to high tuition fees and low salaries compared to other professions.
“Nursing training should take place on the ward, not in a university lecture theatre” she said. “That’s why our policy is to bring back the State Enrolled Nurse rather than have to recruit from overseas.”
Director of Nursing at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust Sarah Bloomfield said temporary staff had to be used to cover a shortfall in staff.
“We have said consistently that we want to recruit more nurses to reduce our reliance on agency and temporary staff and this has been widely publicised with a number of recruitment events taking place recently to attract new staff.
“We have recruited, or made offers to, more than 150 staff nurses and health care assistants in recent months as part of our efforts to recruit more nursing staff to support our wards and departments.
Previous figures have shown how NHS trusts have spent thousands on recruitment trips abroad, often staying in luxury hotels, and paying agencies to hire staff for the NHS at a much higher salary than British nurses are paid.
NHS spending on temporary staff has reached £2.5billion a year amid a growing shortage of British nurses and Accident & Emergency doctors.
An NHS hospital has been criticsed for paying an agency nurse £2,200 to work a single 12 hour shift.
The record sum – a rate of £183.33 an hour – was paid by Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, a Freedom of Information request has disclosed.
Last month an investigation found Trusts paying nurses rates of more than £1,700 per shift, amid increasing staff shortages and an increased reliance on workers from overseas.