Temporary Nurses Are Costing NI £13 Million A Year

Over thirteen million pounds was spent employing temporary nurses in Northern Ireland last year because of a shortage of trained staff, the Department of Health has said. The Royal Hospital in Belfast was the largest user of the agency staff, an official report said.

Specialist services in operating theatres, intensive care units and mental health and learning disabilities were worst affected. Janice Smyth from the Royal College of Nursing said poor morale had contributed. “It is about trolley waits, pressures on services, patients not getting the care that they need, staffing shortages and not giving them the care that they need and violence against staff,” she said.

“Workforce planning should ensure that we have an adequate supply of nurses to meet the needs of the service. “There is always going to be a need for a supply of agency nurses to cover unplanned absence but we should not be running services dependant on agency staff.”

The total spent between April 2006 and last March was £13.7 million. The RCN deputy director said there were around 750 places training places at local universities every year but not all graduates made it into the health service.