There has been a drop of more than £3 million in Scotland in the cost of employing bank and agency nursing staff in the NHS, new figures have revealed.
Bank nurses, who work for the NHS as needed, cost a total of £98.06 million in 2009-10, down from the previous year's £99.34 million. Agency nurses, who are employed by private firms, ran up a £8.18 million total, down on £10.30 million. The combined total savings for the NHS was £3.14 million.
Scottish Health Secretary, Nicola Sturgeon, said: "We are continuing to ensure NHS boards across Scotland scrutinise the quality and efficiency of absolutely everything they do. These figures show this is paying off.
"The downward trend in the costs of agency nursing is evidence of this, with the money saved retained by NHS boards and ploughed back into frontline patient care."
Labour health spokeswoman, Jackie Baillie, hit out at Ms Sturgeon's comments after the recent announcement that 4,000 NHS jobs will be lost over the coming year, including at least 1,500 nursing posts. She said: "Patient care is already suffering with thousands of operations cancelled by hospitals because staff and resources are being overstretched."
"Bank nurses choose for whatever reason not to have a substantive contract or maybe just cannot get a job. Those hospitals that have a 'core' of bank staff experienced in their field and reliable are now losing out. Bank nurses should be offered temporary contracts. Some bank nurses are recently retired and, again have the up-to-date knowledge and experience required to do the job" - Dianne, Glasgow
"As a result in reduction in the use of bank and agency staff, there is increased pressure on NHS nurses, wards are being put under pressure, staff are no longer paid fairly if they do extra hours required to keep the wards adequately staffed. They no longer receive overtime payment and are only paid as Bank staff. I'm afraid the cost saving techniques are demoralising staff, putting patients at risk. But never mind Miss Sturgeon as long as you're saving money! Senior nursing management are happy to support this because the clinical service managers now receive bonuses for cutting costs. It's clear where there priorities lie and it's not with staff and patients. Cost savings could be made in lots of places - no bonuses, reduction in the administrative side, which is now larger than the the nursing population. Letters and computers don't improve patient care, good nursing care does" - Hazel, Glasgow