The NHS requires an additional 50,000 clinical staff to ensure high-quality and safe healthcare, according to the National Audit Office (NAO).
Instead of recruiting long-term replacements for these vacancies, many NHS trusts are using temporary agency staff to fill gaps in rotas. Spending on agency staff increased from £2.2bn to £3.3bn between 2009/10 and 2014/15.
Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: “These shortcomings are serious and the current arrangements do not achieve value for money.”
Reasons for the staffing shortfall vary by region, but the NAO highlighted the following:
- Lack of proactive planning in addressing staffing needs across the country
- Too little use of overseas recruitment
- Too few staff using return-to-practise initiatives
- Tighter immigration rules on nurses between 2009 and 2015
This report comes at a time when the Department of Health (DoH) is facing both angry doctors and financial troubles.
Junior doctors are striking on February 10th over changes to their contracts, which they say are unfair and unsafe.
The DoH is cutting 650 jobs to reduce its running costs, amongst increasing speculation that it has already overspent its £116.3bn budget for the year.