Millions spent on agency nurses last year

Upper Bann DUP Assembly Member Diane Dodds has described tackling the costs of agency staff as one of the key issues that Health Minister Robin Swann needs to get to grips with.
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She stated: “In response to written questions I had tabled at Stormont, the Health Minister has confirmed that £186 million was paid out on agency nurses last year. In the Southern Trust the figure was £28m this year and £31m for the previous year. The Minister went on to state that the total agency spend across all health professions in Northern Ireland was £394 million in the 2022/23 year.

"In response to another question I tabled the Health Minister also confirmed that some of the more senior nurses can earn more than £57 per hour on agency shifts. This money is not all retained by nurses and companies will be taking a significant cut from these sums.

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"This is a hugely inefficient way to operate and it seems to have just mushroomed over the years. I accept that a small level of agency spend can be understandable, but making progress on reducing such colossal costs will be about effectively managing the workforce.

Health Committee.Health Committee.
Health Committee.

"The DUP has committed to increasing the health workforce through ensuring fair pay and safe-staffing levels, and increasing the number of health professional training places in line with the HSC workforce strategy and Medical Student Places Review.

"We also need to incentivise the retention and return of staff, which can be financially and/or through support for training, freedom to pursue professional development areas of interest, long-term rostering or guaranteed leave, in areas such as domiciliary care, ICU or general practice”.