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Outlining his plans for overhauling the NHS, Parliamentary undersecretary of state for health Dr Dan Poulter intends to cut the temporary staffing budget by -25% by the end of 2016. The National Health Service (NHS) spends approximately £2.4 billion each year on temporary staffing.
Dr Poulter commented: “Our NHS can, and must, reduce its use of temporary and agency staffing for the sake of patients. Less reliance on temporary staffing often means better and safer care for patients. Too much money is being wasted.”
It has been claimed by Dr Poulter that the hospitals ranked bottom across the UK spend almost 10% of their budget on temporary staff, compared with top hospitals that spend only 1%.. However, a direct correlation between the proportion of temporary staff and the performance of hospitals is, as of yet, unproved and unclear. In contrast, any private sector company that used too few temporary workers would be deemed inflexible and inefficient.
Also unclear, is any correlation between the number of temporary employees and the number of zero-hour contracts used by the best and worst performing hospitals. Staffing Industry Analysts request to the Department for Health for further information regarding precise staffing numbers went unanswered. Research published in July by the Labour Party concerning the number of zero-hour contracts used by the NHS estimated that 300,000 social care workers were employed on these contracts, as much as 20% of the entire workforce of the sector.