Recruitment agencies defend £1.18bn NHS temporary nurse bill

Recruitment agencies have hit back at claims the government is wasting taxpayers’ money by paying up to £121 per hour for temporary nurses.

The Conservative Party hit out after discovering that the NHS’ annual temporary staff bill has doubled to £1.18bn since Labour came to power.

One nurse was found to be on £121.59 per hour at the Royal Berkshire Foundation Trust when figures were released under the Freedom of Information Act.

But Tom Hadley, director of external relations at agency body the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, said: “To suggest that agency workers are a drain on resources is wide of the mark.

“The cost of agency workers is often taken out of context and it is a shame that the massive contribution that flexible and highly skilled workers make to the frontline delivery of NHS services is regularly overlooked.”

He added that very few temporary nurses were on as much as £120 per hour, and insisted commission taken by agencies was small.

“The most recent National Audit Office report concludes that on average, agency nurses were only marginally more expensive than NHS staff,” he said.

“Reasons for this include training and the use of more specialist skills which you would expect to pay more for.”

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