£9.8m spent on ‘bank’ staff, mostly nurses

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The Western Trust spent £9.8m on ‘bank’ staff in 2017/18, the health authority has confirmed.

In total 3,550 temporary workers were used to plug gaps, mostly in the Trust’s nursing, midwifery and social services areas. According to information released in response to a Freedom of Information request, of the £9,781,295 spent altogether, £5,995,173 was used to employ 2,413 staff to meet surges in demand or absences in nursing and midwifery, and £2,331,542 was spent deploying 812 staff from its social services bank.

A further £1,372,865 was spent on 270 temporary support services staff with much smaller sums being paid across a range of other areas.

The Trust said its pool of temporary staff was “primarily for nursing staff - registered nurses and nursing assistants” and that “the Trust does not have any third party input to the support or management of the staff bank.”

It added: “The Western Trust does not have a collaborative arrangement in place for managing the bank arrangements for nursing staff. The Trust has the total responsibility of managing the Nurse Bank and has a dedicated Team for this purpose.”

SDLP health spokesman and Foyle MLA Mark H. Durkan said recruitment issues persisted across the health service and claimed that this was the fault of inaction by previous Executives.

He said this had also been reflected in the NIAO’s recent finding that in 2017/18 the Western Trust was spending over 22 per cent of its entire medical pay bill on locum doctors.

“This is not a failure of political inactivity but rather the glaring failures of workforce planning under previous Executives. Spending on agency staff has trebled in just six years, meaning that vital money is being lost elsewhere. Resourcing is the foundation on which we can rebuild the Department of Health, which is why I have stressed the importance of a medical school in Derry for a number of years now,” said Mr. Durkan.