Agency midwives cost “wasteful” NHS trusts almost £18m in one year, according to new figures – enough to employ 511 full-time staff.
Spending soared by 75.7 per cent in two years, rising from £10m in 2012 to £17.8m in 2014, data obtained by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) through Freedom of Information requests shows.
The variation in the amount of agency spending between the 136 trusts in England is stark. While one trust spent just £358 between 2012 and 2014, another paid out nearly £4.5m in the same period. More than 11 trusts spent in excess of £1m on agency staff over three years.
Forty-three of the 130 trusts that responded to the FOI request say they have used agency staff at some point in the last three years.
The RCM says staff shortages should be eliminated by employing more midwives and incentivising staff to work bank shifts and overtime. “At present the cost of overtime is being controlled but agency spend, which is much more expensive, is less controlled. This needs to be corrected as current practice in the NHS is wasteful,” the report says.
A Department of Health spokesperson said a shift rate cap has now been introduced to limit the amount companies can charge per shift. “These figures cover previous years and do not reflect the current situation,” said the spokesperson.
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