Workforce and Training

15.05.18

NHS spends almost £1.5bn on temporary nursing staff to plug gap

The NHS spends at least £1.46bn on temporary nursing staff, it has been revealed.

A Freedom of Information (FoI) request by the Open University for its report, ‘Tackling the nursing shortage’, revealed that many trusts have been forced to fill staffing shortages through expensive overtime or temporary arrangements, paying for an additional 79 million hours of registered nurses’ time in the last 12 months.

Of the 241 trusts that were contacted, 141 responded and they collectively spent a minimum of £1.46bn in the past year. If this data is extrapolated to cover all trusts, the cost could be as high as £2.4bn.

Temporary nursing staff are very expensive and the report argues that if this £1.46bn were to be reinvested, the NHS could secure the services of 66,000 newly qualified registered nurses - far above February’s vacancy rate of 38,000.

If these existing gaps were permanently filled, the NHS could save as much as £560m a year, the Open University found.

However, the demand for nurses is outpacing the supply, with the number of new nursing roles created between 2012 and 2015 increased by 8.1%, while the number of new registered nurse only increased by 3.2%.

As part of the research, the Open University commissioned market research among registered nurses and health care support workers from the public and private sectors.

Over three quarters of registered nurses believe that the nursing shortage will worsen, with 61% expecting even more reliance on temporary workers.

Almost half of those questioned said that the nursing shortage in their own areas has worsened since the Brexit referendum, and 37% believe that the number of international nurse applications will continue to fall, despite 40% believing that attracting international nurses is crucial to plugging the gap.

Jan Draper, professor of nursing at the Open University, said: “Relying on temporary nurses to plug gaps is just sticking a plaster over the problem, and costs considerably more than if vacancies were filled permanently.”

Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said that the figures exposed the “utter false economy in current NHS staffing”.

She added: “Short-sightedness in recent years has left tens of thousands of unfilled nurse jobs, to the severe detriment of patient care.

“Workforce planning has been ineffective and dictated by the state of finances, not the needs of patients.

“It is further proof that cost-cutting plans saved no money at all and, instead, increased agency costs, recruitment fees and the sickness absence bill through rising stress.

“Ministers should look at these figures and demonstrate they have the political will to fix the shortages.”

The findings come at the same time as an RCN report that found staff shortages are affecting patient care and the mental and physical health of staff, and a poll revealed that three quarters of the public in England thought that there are not enough nurses to deliver safe care in the NHS.

 

Enjoying NHE? Subscribe here to receive our weekly news updates or click here to receive a copy of the magazine!

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

national health executive tv

more videos >

latest healthcare news

CQC finds ‘significant improvements’ at specialist London NHS trust

25/03/2019CQC finds ‘significant improvements’ at specialist London NHS trust

Significant improvements have been found by inspectors at the Royal National Orthopaedic NHS Trust (RNOH) in a “major step forward” f... more >
Heart surgeries cancelled and patients warned of fatal infection risk due to deaths at Edinburgh hospital

25/03/2019Heart surgeries cancelled and patients warned of fatal infection risk due to deaths at Edinburgh hospital

NHS Lothian has written to nearly 200 patients who have undergone heart surgery in the last six months warning them of a potentially fatal infect... more >
Medical director promoted to chief executive at under-investigation trust

25/03/2019Medical director promoted to chief executive at under-investigation trust

The Countess of Chester Hospital Trust (COCH) has announced that its medical director has been appointed as its new chief executive. Susan G... more >

editor's comment

25/09/2017A hotbed of innovation

This edition of NHE comes hot on the heels of this year’s NHS Expo which, once again, proved to be a huge success at Manchester Central. A number of announcements were made during the event, with the health secretary naming the second wave of NHS digital pioneers, or ‘fast followers’, which follow the initial global digital e... read more >

last word

Hard to be optimistic

Hard to be optimistic

Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, warns that we must be realistic about the very real effects of continued underfunding across the health service. It’s now bey... more > more last word articles >

the scalpel's daily blog

What progress are we making to transform our population’s mental health?

25/03/2019What progress are we making to transform our population’s mental health?

Professor Gillian Leng, Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Health and Social Care at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence - NICE - provides her view of the newly published NICE impact report on mental health. Mental health conditions are the largest single cause of disability in the UK, with one in 4 adults experienci... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

comment

What progress are we making to transform our population’s mental health?

25/03/2019What progress are we making to transform our population’s mental health?

Professor Gillian Leng, Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Health and Social Care at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence - ... more >
Staying curious with the Shadow Board Programme

20/03/2019Staying curious with the Shadow Board Programme

Kirstie Stott, director of The Inspiring Leaders Network, discusses organisational and system curiosity alongside the work of the Shadow Board Pr... more >
Fiction as Therapy

20/03/2019Fiction as Therapy

Elaine Bousfield of ZunTold Publishing – a press specialising in fiction for children and young people – discusses ‘Fiction as ... more >
Capturing funds for the NHS estate

20/03/2019Capturing funds for the NHS estate

Aahsan Rahman, department head of town planning at NHS Property Services (NHSPS), looks at an alternative and perhaps underutilised funding sourc... more >

interviews

How can winter pressures be dealt with? Introduce a National Social Care Service, RCP president suggests

24/10/2018How can winter pressures be dealt with? Introduce a National Social Care Service, RCP president suggests

A dedicated national social care service could be a potential solution to surging demand burdening acute health providers over the winter months,... more >
RCP president on new Liverpool college building: ‘This will be a hub for clinicians in the north’

24/10/2018RCP president on new Liverpool college building: ‘This will be a hub for clinicians in the north’

The president of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has told NHE that the college’s new headquarters based in Liverpool will become a hu... more >
Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

24/01/2018Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

The NHS plays a part in the country’s wellness – but it’s far from being all that matters. Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Pu... more >
Cutting through the fake news

22/11/2017Cutting through the fake news

In an era of so-called ‘fake news’ growing alongside a renewed focus on reducing stigma around mental health, Paul Farmer, chief exec... more >

health service focus

View all News