Sunday, 4 January 2009

NHS paid up to £188 an hour to agency staff

By Michael Savage, Political Correspondent
Saturday, 3 January 2009

NHS organisations have been accused of paying agency staff hugely inflated rates of pay after new figures showed one consultant anaesthetist had been paid £188 an hour, the equivalent of a £366,000 salary.

The pay rates, secured by the Conservative Party under the Freedom of Information Act, also revealed large bills for managerial staff. A senior manager at Tower Hamlets Primary Care Trust (PCT) was paid £157 an hour, the equivalent of a £306,000 salary.

Wandsworth PCT paid a strategic commissioning manager £147 per hour, while an accident and emergency doctor drafted in by Trafford Healthcare NHS Trust was paid £167 an hour.

Many other agency workers were found to have been paid an hourly rate higher than that of the chief executive of the NHS, David Nicholson, who received £220,000 last year.

The figures also revealed that some agencies take a large cut of their workers' pay, suggesting great inefficiency in temporary staffing in the NHS. Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust paid a nurse £116 per hour last year, but the worker's agency took 43 per cent of that.

The shadow Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, said: "Labour's dithering and chaotic, short-term planning has let down NHS staff. Some stability for them is the least we would have expected from the billions that the Government has poured into the NHS.

"It's incredible that agency staff can be paid such high hourly rates when jobs are being cut. This is typical of the waste that's occurred under this Labour Government."

The NHS spent almost £800m on agency workers in 2006-07.

But a spokesman for the Department of Health said it was in a "good place" on spending on agency staff, having reduced the bill from 5.5 per cent of its pay budget in 2004 to 3.2 per cent last year. He added: "The NHS Purchasing and Supplies Agency uses the NHS's buying power to negotiate lower pay rates with agencies."

Source: The Independent