Outrage at NHS pay rates to agency staff

AGENCY staff hired by the NHS in Suffolk and Essex this year earned up to �100 an hour, hospital payrolls have revealed.

Tom Potter

AGENCY staff hired by the NHS in Suffolk and Essex this year earned up to �100 an hour, hospital payrolls have revealed.

The amount spent on employing staff to cover shifts in the East of England has been condemned by Conservatives as “unforgivable.”

Figures obtained under Freedom of Information legislation show that a contracted director working for North Essex Primary Care Trust collected �98.66 an hour - the equivalent of around �174,000 a year.


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At Colchester Hospital University, the same interim post called for an hourly wage of �83, while in Suffolk, an “information management and technology project manager” commanded �60 for 60 minutes work, �10 of which was paid hourly to the agency.

Nationally, the �1.254 billion spent on agency staff in 2008-9 amounted to almost half a billion more than the bill amassed in the previous year and almost double the annual budget for cancer drugs and nearly as much as the NHS spends on maternity services.

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Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley called it “a hugely wasteful way to run the NHS.”

“It is unforgivable that more than �300 million of taxpayers' money intended for the NHS is instead going to employment agencies,” he said.

Top earners elsewhere included an agency doctor at King's Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital on �375 an hour - almost treble the equivalent rate paid to the chief executive of the NHS.

On average, agencies took a 26% cut, meaning that they may be receiving around �338 million a year.

A spokeswoman from the Department of Health - which reported that a Band 5 nurse earns between �20,000 and �26,000 - said: “Temporary staff have, and continue to have, a key role in helping the NHS to respond to fluctuations in demand for services and in staff availability.

“Increasing the quality of, and achieving best value for money from temporary staffing is an important aspect of workforce planning in the NHS.”

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