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UK – Staffing firms charge high rates for temp nurses

17 July 2012

Agency nurses in the UK are receiving up to £1,600 a day by the National Health Service (NHS) as the sector is struggling with acute staff shortages, an investigation by the Telegraph has revealed.

The report suggests that the number of temporary agency workers has risen by +50% within a year, claiming that staffing firms are getting paid much higher rates than nurses on the NHS payroll.

Disclosures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that recruitment agencies have received up to £1,600 per shift to provide specialist nurses, compared to £212 for those nurses on the regular NHS payroll, the paper writes.

The report investigated several hospitals and found big discrepancies in pay for contracted nurses and NHS nurses. According to figures gathered from 39 trusts across the UK, agency workers filled 21,000 in March alone, seeing an increase of 7,000 from a year ago. 

Dr Peter Carter, General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) told the paper that these numbers show “lamentable” planning by the NHS, leaving hospitals at the mercy of high rates charged by staffing firms. “Now the hospitals have made such drastic cuts, the agencies have got them over a barrel and can charge what they like,” he said.

The NHS meanwhile confirmed that pay for agency shifts included commission to the staffing agencies.

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