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UK — NHS spending on agency staff up by 60% over two years

30 December 2009

The British government opposition (Conservatives) have branded government spending on staffing agency personnel for the National Health Service (NHS) as wasteful, the BBC reports.

Recent figures reveal that the NHS spent almost 1.3 billion Pounds on agency staff in the year 2008/2009, a 60% rise in two years. The Conservatives have also obtained data from individual NHS Trusts.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn admitted to the Conservatives to have paid a senior doctor 375 Pounds per hour, whilst at the same time saying that they were still looking to recruit a permanent person to the post. Several other Trusts said that they paid nurses in excess of 100 Pounds per hour on occasions.

Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said "this is a hugely wasteful way to run the NHS," but Sian Thomas, Director of NHS employers, said "appointing permanent staff can be more expensive if you are looking to change services as we have to do."

A Department of Health spokeswoman said "temporary staff have, and continue to have, a key role in helping the NHS to respond to fluctuations in demand for services and in staff availability."



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