An MP has blamed Govermnent cuts for the ’spiralling costs’ of agency nurses at King’s Mill Hospital.
Ashfield MP Gloria De Piero has criticised the Government after figures released by Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust revealed that it spent more than £5.6 million on agency nurses in the financial year 2015-16 – up by nearly £1m on the year before.
Trust chiefs say they keep spending on agency staff as low as possible and its main priority was safe staffing levels.
It has been well documented that the trust has been struggling to fill nursing vacancies, with trust chiefs even holding recruitment events abroad to try and attract more staff.
The MP said the blame for the nursing shortage at King’s Mill lays on the Government who she says are failing to train enough new nurses and leaving hospitals with no alternative but to hire expensive agency staff.
She said: “The number of nurses per 100,000 population has fallen from 679 in November 2009 to just 664.5 in November 2015.
“In 2011 and 2012, the number of nurse training places was cut from over 20,000 to just 17,000 – the lowest level since the 1990s. As a result there were over 8,000 fewer nurses trained in the 2010-2015 Parliament compared to 2010-11 levels.
“Many hospital trusts, including Sherwood Forest, are facing increasingly difficult financial situations as NHS funding is cut in real terms.”
Ms De Piero said the Government needs to step in to address the problem of understaffing at hospitals now.
“It should be training more nurses instead of making trusts pick up exorbitant agency bills,” she added.
The trust spent £4,436,714 on agency nurses in 2013-14, rising to £4,713,042 in 2014-15 and up again to £5,658,472 in 2015-16.
Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust defended its record on employing agency staff.
Victoria Bagshaw, deputy director of nursing and quality at Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “In 2015-16 the trust spent around £5.6m on agency nurses used across our three hospital sites.
“While we try to keep our spending on agency staff as low as possible, our main priority will always be to ensure that we have safe staffing levels at all times.”
She added: “In common with many other NHS hospitals we have nurse vacancies which we are actively trying to fill. We have recently held a number of successful recruitment events for qualified nurses and have others planned for the future.”