A report issued this week has shown that there has been a large rise in the number of positions and shifts for acute and community service providers being filled by agency nurses.
The report stated: “The number of shifts filled by agencies has increased since July 2011, up 51% in the final quarter of 2011-12 compared to 2010-11, representing an increase of 3.1% of all demand.” It also added: “After reducing for two consecutive years, shift demand has increased steadily from summer 2011, and greatly accelerated from January to March 2012. Much of the additional demand seen in the last six months was unforeseen, with many trusts actually forecasting reduced shift demand.”
Across the north of England there was a 24% rise in the demand for temporary shifts, while the south saw a 12% increase and London experienced a 13% rise. While some foundation trusts seemed to buck the trend and actually keep their use of agency staff down to less than 1%, this comes on the back of an 11% rise within foundations the previous year.
The increases are being attributed to the NHS reconfiguring its services as hospitals look to temporary staff to fill short-term vacancies during the restructuring process. The Department of Health commented that the report was not an accurate reflection of the picture across the country as a whole, and fully expected the NHS to cut spending on agency staff by £300 million by the end of next year.