Tony Lloyd: Scrap private agencies and fund NHS doctors and nurses

Recent figures have revealed that the Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust shelled out £21,339,863 on doctors from private agencies to plug gaps in its workforce.

As much as £5,234 on a single doctor’s shift last year meant money that could have been spent elsewhere instead went towards inflated agency fees.

Rochdale MP, Tony Lloyd, said, “Desperate hospitals are forced to pay rip-off fees to agencies because the Conservatives have failed to train enough doctors and nurses over the past 12 years.

“While taxpayers are paying over the odds on agency staff, the government has cut medical school places, turning away thousands of straight-A students in England.

“A Labour government will tackle the root cause of the crisis in the NHS by training 7,500 more doctors and 10,000 more nurses a year, paid for by abolishing the non-dom tax status. We need doctors and nurses, not non-doms.”

Agency staff are brought in to cover when there aren’t enough staff on shift, at a far higher cost than those who work full time for the NHS. In total the NHS has spent £4.6 billion on agency doctors in the last five years. This year it paid £3 billion to agencies who provide doctors and nurses at short notice, a 20% increase compared with last year. Trusts spent a further £6 billion on bank staff, when NHS staff are paid to do temporary shifts, taking the total spent on additional staff to around £9.2 billion.

The NHS currently has 9,000 vacancies for doctors, with a record 133,000 vacancies in total. Despite the shortages, the Conservative government this summer cut medical school places by 3,000, meaning thousands more students who want to help are being turned away.

Labour will tackle staff shortages in the NHS to save taxpayers’ money being wasted on agency recruiters and treat patients on time again by:

• Doubling the number of medical school places to train 15,000 doctors a year

• Training 10,000 new nurses and midwives every year

• Doubling the number of district nurses qualifying each year

• Provide 5,000 new health visitors

The plans will be paid for by abolishing non-dom tax status, which allows residents of the UK to avoid paying taxes here.


Notes for editors:-

1. The figures we collected from a freedom of information request sent to every NHS trust in England, asking for figures for 2021/22 on:
Most expensive single agency doctor shift
Most expensive single agency nurse shift
The total amount spent on agency doctors in 2021/22
The total amount spent on agency nurses in 2021/22

2. Information for previous years spend on agency doctors and nurses is from the below Parliamentary questions