Bishop of Chelmsford asks about cost of using agency staff to cover NHS shortages

The Bishop of Chelmsford asked a question about the cost of employing agency staff to cover NHS shifts, as compared to the cost of a pay rise for NHS staff, during a debate on the upcoming NHS industrial action on 13th December 2022:

The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, even prior to the strikes, agency nurses were being brought in to ensure that shifts were safely staffed. I should be grateful if the Minister would set out what assessment the Government have made of the cost to the NHS of employing agency staff, compared with that of a pay rise that would work towards an arguably better and more stable workforce?

Lord Markham (Con): I do not have those figures to hand, but I believe there is a Question on this subject tomorrow, when we will be talking very much about the use of agency staff and bank staff. From memory—the right reverend Prelate will get the exact figures when I have done a bit more swotting up overnight—I think the cost of agency and bank staff work this year is around £3 billion. Clearly, the workforce strategy will be all about making sure we can recruit staff to minimise that.


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