Nursing :: More than a billion pounds on temporary nurses is too high a price to pay, says RCN

Responding to a report issued by the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts on the use of temporary staff by the NHS, General Secretary of the RCN, Dr Peter Carter, said:

“Spending more than a billion pounds a year on temporary nursing staff in the NHS is just too high a price to pay. It is further evidence of ineffective management, poor workforce planning and an unacceptable waste of money.?

?It is profoundly depressing that today’s report raises exactly the same issues as those of the Audit Commission’s report ‘Brief Encounters’ in 2001. Both reports highlight a lack of a strategic approach to the use of temporary nursing staff in the NHS, poor control of costs, ineffective procurement and a lack of monitoring regarding safe levels of working hours and training. The clear recommendations made in 2001 have simply been ignored.?

?All too often, quality checks are not being carried out adequately. So while there is no inherent difference in the quality of care provided by temporary staff compared with permanent staff, the way they are managed and deployed exposes patients to risks.?

In light of the Department of Health’s ongoing failure to improve the management of temporary staff in the NHS, the RCN is prepared to develop its own tool for representatives and employers to enable them to analyse the use of agency staff and identify improvements where necessary.

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