Concerns raised about cost of high number of agency nurses
HOSPITAL bosses have expressed concerns about the number of agency nurses being employed in Gloucestershire.
It comes as cancer patients were warned of a shortage of oncology nurses in the county.
Members of Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Cheltenham General and Gloucestershire Royal hospitals, want to cut the amount being paid out to temporary staff.
They hope a recruitment drive will help bring in more permanent members of the nursing staff.
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Speaking to board members of the trust last week, Sarah Truelove, director of finance, said: "There is an issue with the high use of temporary staffing which is creating an overspend."
The trust has admitted it has been using the bank staff to fill vacancies created through nurses taking holiday or sick days.
The number of temporary nurses being employed across the UK has risen by 51 per cent during the last year. According to figures released in the summer, general nurses in Britain were on rates of up to £1,400 a day, compared with average pay of £188 for those on health service contracts.
But the trust in Gloucestershire will not reveal the break-down in cost for hiring the agency nurses in the county.
Kate Jeal, communications specialist with the trust, said: "Sometimes we need to utilise bank and agency staff to cover leave and short-term sickness as well as filling temporary vacancies.
"We are continually working to ensure we have the right levels of staff in the right places and, as a part of this process, we have recently recruited 43 new qualified nurses, 29 Healthcare Assistants (HCAs) as well as 16 apprentice HCAs plus HCAs for maternity and paediatrics.
"The amount spent on temporary staffing is only a small percentage of the trust's overall annual pay bill.
"However, we continue to work to reduce spend on temporary staffing with measures including the rollout of an electronic rostering system aimed at controlling costs and improving efficiency."
The trust is also currently trying to recruit experienced cancer nurses with chemotherapy training.
The trust's chief executive, Dr Frank Harsent, said: "We are continuing to seek experienced cancer nurses with specialist training, however this process is regrettably taking longer than we had hoped."