Southern Trust spending 10 percent more on agency nurses

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Spending on agency and bank nurses at local hospitals including South Tyrone and Craigavon has soared by ten percent over the past two years, in spite of unprecedented budget pressures.

The Southern Health Trust’s bill for agency staff hit £6.7million in the past year, up from £6.1million in 2012.

The figures were released by the Department of Health at the Northern Ireland Assembly.

There were similar increases reported by other trusts in Northern Ireland.

The rise in spending on expensive temporary staff comes despite trusts being under pressure to cut costs.

Across Northern Ireland, spending on agency staff is expected to top £70m this year, having soared by 60% over the last four years.

In some cases nurses costing as much as £87 an hour were brought in to cover chronic staff shortages.

Critics have accused health chiefs of “squandering” money on temporary workers, and claimed recruiting more full-time staff would provide much better value.

In some cases spending on agency staff has spiralled alarmingly. The Southern Trust’s bill has doubled since 2010.