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25 February 2015, 08:09
The bill to the NHS for paying for agency nurses in hospitals across the East has rocketed by £20million.
Information obtained by the Royal College of Nursing in the East of England highlights the inability of hospitals to recruit nurses has cost an extra £20 million over the past year.
They also reveal a 69% rise in agency nursing expenditure across the region and a 26% growth in the number of nurse vacancies across the region.
The RCN data shows that many hospitals are struggling to recruit permanent staff and are having to spend increasing amounts of money on temporary staff to look after patients and increasingly looking overseas to recruit nurses.
All acute hospitals in the East of England were asked under the Freedom of Information Act for registered nurse vacancies, nurse agency spend and overseas recruitment during 2014.
RCN Director for the Eastern region, Karen Webb, said: “The cost of central government’s failure to plan properly for the NHS’s workforce needs is proving cripplingly expensive. Through no fault of their own, NHS trusts in our region are scouring the globe looking for nurses and, in the meantime, having to make do with the sticking plaster approach of using expensive agency nurses. It’s not good for patient care and it is the most inefficient and most expensive way to try and staff wards.”
In 2014, nearly three-quarters (72%) of hospital trusts went abroad to try and recruit nurses, ranging from India, the Philippines and European countries. In 2013 only 50% of trusts in the Eastern region went overseas for nurse recruitment.