Cash-strapped NHS Lothian is paying agencies £1,715 per nurse per shift
Cash-strapped health board's massive bill for temporary staff revealed
HEALTH bosses in Lothian are paying agencies £1,715 for one nurse for one shift.
Figures released under Freedom of Information showed NHS Lothian forking out up to £142.95 an hour for nursing staff provided by private agencies - though the nurses receive only a fraction of the amount.
NHS Lothian is under severe financial pressure and last month Audit Scotland predicted it would have a deficit of £90m by 2020/21.
Lothian Labour MSP Neil Findlay said: “NHS Lothian has the worst level of debt in Scotland. It’s paying out £1.4million a month on fees for the Sick Kids hospital that hasn’t treated a single patient, waiting times are increasing and there’s a GP crisis.
“In addition, we hear every day from staff who are wilting under the pressures they’re experiencing.
“Now we establish they’re paying £1,715 per day to a private agency for nurse cover, all because of the SNP Government’s complete failure to address staffing problems in our NHS.
“We need a government that’ll face up to the staffing problems in our health service and act now to recruit the staff to deliver the care patients need.”
The FoI figures showed the amount NHS Lothian spent on all agency staff had reduced in the past three years but still totalled more than £28 million over that period and stood at £8,780,328 in 2018/19 for 27,757 shifts.
The nursing payments of up to £142.94 works out at £1,715.40 for a 12-hour shift.
The highest payment of all was £179.70 per hour made to a consultant to fill a post at short notice.
The Scottish Government has said the use of temporary staff allows for the continuation of vital services, ensuring patients continue to receive healthcare in their community.
NHS Lothian medical director Dr Tracey Gillies said: “We occasionally have to request agency staff to fill gaps in all disciplines that arise unexpectedly and at short notice. Over the last three years, we have been working to reduce the use of agency staff and have made significant progress as the figures show.
“Where possible, we use our own staff bank of registered nurses to ensure that wards and departments have the appropriate staffing levels.”