Agency nurse spending doubles in 2 years for Queen’s Hospital trust

Stressed nurse

Stressed nurse - Credit: Archant

The trust responsible for Queen’s Hospital in Romford has more than doubled the amount it spends on agency nurses in the past two years.

In the second quarter of 2014/15 £1,354,865 was spent on agency staff compared to £601,674 in the same period for 2012/13 according to figures obtained in a Freedom of Information request from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) yesterday (Thurs).

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT) has the lowest expenditure for east London trusts but is still in the top 10 across the city for spending on temporary staff.

The RCN’s regional director, Bernell Bussue, said: “London is facing a growing shortage of qualified nursing staff and today’s figures show the cost which employers have to bear to plug the gaps.

“The government needs to do much more to make London an attractive, affordable destination for nursing staff so that our hospital trusts can plan ahead and get enough permanent staff in place to provide high quality care at the level which patients can expect.”

The Care Quality Commission noted the “trust is aware that staffing is an area for improvement” in its inspection report of BHRUT in 2013.

The report added “the trust faces significant difficulties in recruiting medical staff for A&E” and “the heavy reliance on locum staff is putting patients at risk of receiving suboptimal care”.

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BHRUT has held a series of recruitment drives at home and abroad to bring more qualified nurses into the hospitals, employing people from as far away as Portugal.

Despite this, BHRUT has seen an increase in spending on agency staff to fill the gaps of 125 per cent in the past two years – which is just above the national average of 117pc.

The trust’s chief executive, Matthew Hopkins, said: “Like many trusts, particularly in London, we face difficulties recruiting permanent staff to our emergency departments.

“We use locum staff to provide patients with the care they need and to keep staffing levels safe.”

The RCN predicts by the end of this tax year trusts across the country will be spending an average of £4.2million on agency staff annually.

This money could be used to employ 122 band five nurses.