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Scottish care homes paying £1,000 per shift for agency nurses

Rising nurse vacancies in care homes across Scotland are forcing some to pay up to £1,000 per shift to cover the shortfall with agency staff.

A report into independent care homes, commissioned by Scottish Care, found that the average cost per shift was £434, but that some agencies were charging £1,000 per shift.

High levels of vacant nurse posts have been blamed, with 91% of independent care homes struggling to fill posts and having to cover the gaps with agencies. Average vacancy rates across the sector sit at 31% for 2017, up from 28% in 2016.

Chief executive of Scottish Care, Dr Donald Macaskill, claimed that the recruitment crisis across care homes in Scotland meant that many of them were ‘at real risk, in terms of survival’.

He said: ‘Despite strenuous efforts matters have got even worse in 2017 and we are now at the stage of many care homes being placed at real risk in terms of their survival. Paying exorbitant agency fees to plug a continuing gap is wholly unsustainable. Urgent short-term measures are needed, and require us to work with Scottish Government and other partners, to find solutions to this challenge.’

Director of the Royal College of Nursing in Scotland, Theresa Fyffe, described the situation as ‘critical’.

‘Care homes are under immense pressure and are facing an uphill struggle to recruit and retain the nurses they need to ensure clinical care for patients,’ she said.

‘The situation is now critical. When care homes are under pressure to meet patient demand, they often have no choice but to use agency nursing staff to ensure safe care.’