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Locum Doctors and Nurses

Volume 709: debated on Tuesday 1 March 2022

7. If he will make an estimate of the percentage of (a) doctors and (b) nurses being paid locum rates in the latest week for which figures are available. (905779)

In NHS hospital trusts to date in 2021-22, there have been on average 14,826 full-time-equivalent agency nurses and 4,621 medical and dental FTE agency staff. It is hard to draw direct percentage comparisons given different methodologies for measuring such percentages, but my understanding is that overall about 3% of nursing shifts and about 1.5% of doctors’ shifts in hospitals are filled by locums or agency staff.

Can we get greater clarity on that information and have it held centrally, given that wages are such a large proportion of the NHS budget? It is essential to know how many hours are paid at the higher locum rate to ensure value for money for the extra billions of pounds that the Government are putting into the NHS to get waiting lists down and for social care.

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend, who is tireless in her determination to ensure value for money for her and all of our taxpayers’ pounds, particularly in this space. We continue to work hard to drive down agency and locum spend, focusing instead on both bank staff and our full-time recruitment, on which the Secretary of State has set out the success that we have been having. Since 2015, we have controlled agency spend through price caps and procurement frameworks. However, she is absolutely right, and we want to see more full-time NHS employed staff working at NHS rates in our trusts.