Millions of pounds spent on agency doctors and nurses has underlined cost of understaffing at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust. In response to a freedom of information request, the trust has revealed that it shelled out £5,338,630 million on Doctors and Nurses from private agencies to plug gaps in its workforce.
Agency staff are brought in to cover when there aren’t enough staff on shift, at a far higher cost than those who work full time for the NHS. Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust spent as much as £1,473 on a single doctor’s shift last year, meaning money that could have been spent elsewhere instead went towards inflated agency fees.
The Labour Party also found that 269 operations were cancelled at the East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust last year, because there weren’t enough staff to deliver them, a lack of beds, equipment failure, and other reasons which lay bare the crisis in the NHS. 110 operations were cancelled due to a lack of staff available at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust. In total across England around 30,000 operations were cancelled due to staff shortages.
In total the NHS has spent £4.6 billion on agency doctors in the last five years. This year it paid £3 billion to agencies who provide doctors and nurses at short notice, a 20% increase compared with last year. Trusts spent a further £6 billion on bank staff, when NHS staff are paid to do temporary shifts, taking the total spent on additional staff to around £9.2 billion.
The NHS currently has 9,000 vacancies for doctors, with a record 133,000 vacancies in total. Despite the shortages, the Conservative government this summer cut medical school places by 3,000, meaning thousands more students who want to help are being turned away.
Helena Dollimore, Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Hastings & Rye said:
“Desperate hospitals including the Conquest are forced to pay rip-off fees to agencies, because the Conservatives have failed to train enough doctors and nurses over the past 12 years. Patients are also feeling the impact with operations cancelled and treatment delayed.
“It is infuriating that, while taxpayers are paying over the odds on agency staff and operations are cancelled, the government has cut medical school places, turning away thousands of straight-A students in England.
“Labour will tackle the root cause of the crisis in the NHS, training 7,500 more doctors and 10,000 more nurses a year, paid for by abolishing the non-dom tax status. We need doctors and nurses, not non-doms.”
Labour will tackle staff shortages in the NHS to save taxpayers’ money being wasted on agency recruiters and treat patients on time again by:
- Doubling the number of medical school places to train 15,000 doctors a year
- Training 10,000 new nurses and midwives every year
- Doubling the number of district nurses qualifying each year
- Provide 5,000 new health visitors
The plans will be paid for by abolishing non-dom tax status, which allows residents of the UK to avoid paying taxes here.
- The figures we collected from a freedom of information request sent to every NHS trust in England, asking for figures for 2021/22 on:
Most expensive single agency doctor shift
Most expensive single agency nurse shift
The total amount spent on agency doctors in 2021/22
The total amount spent on agency nurses in 2021/22
- Information for previous years spend on agency doctors and nurses is from the below Parliamentary questions