It’s interesting to note that money spent by the NHS hiring agency staff to cover shifts soared by 60% over the past two years to almost £1.3 billion, according to figures uncovered by the Conservatives.
NHS hospitals paid hourly rates as high as £400 for a manager, £375 for a doctor and £146 for a nurse – the equivalent in some cases of 10 or more times the average staff pay for the same jobs. The £1.254 billion spent on agency staff in 2008/09 is almost half a billion more than the £786 million bill run-up in 2006/07, when then Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt said it was “common sense” to cut back on agency workers.
Conservatives said that the sums amounted to twice the annual budget for cancer drugs and almost as much as the NHS spends on maternity services. Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said it was “unforgivable” that an estimated £300 million of NHS money ended up in the pockets of the employment agencies who take a slice of the cash.
I disagree. The employment agencies are simply providing a service and can charge what they want for doing so. What IS unforgivable is that lax NHS management presides over such shoddy worktime practises that £££millions are spent off-setting the consequences of these. Responsibility lies fairly and squarely with the NHS management and of course they are only following orders from Government.
We leave 2009 with the NHS as dysfunctional as ever, absorbing vast amounts of taxpayers cash whilst lavishing it on all the wrong areas. Can socialised health-care ever deliver value for money? No!