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We need action on staff shortages now, says RCN

NHS trusts in the southwest of England are paying soaring amounts to nursing agencies, The Royal College of Nursing's (RCN) recent report reveals.

Due to the staff shortages trusts are paying high rates to agencies to supply temporary staff and recruiting nurses from abroad as a short-term solution, Frontline First: The fragile frontline shows.

Details on increased spending on agency nurses in the south west, revealed from RCN freedom of information requests:

Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust:
2010: £784,000
2014: £3.7m

North Bristol NHS Trust:
2010: £349,000
2014: £3.4m

Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust:
2010: £390,000
2014: £6.1m

Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust:
2010: £1.6m
2014: £2.1m

Devon Partnership NHS Trust:
2010: £870,000
2014: £2.3m

Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust:
2010: £544,000
2014: £2.1m

Moreover, figures from Undergraduate Courses at University and College (UCAS) mentioned in the report that more than 50,000 people applied for just 21,205 nurse training places last year - so more than 30,000 people who want to become nurses were turned away.

Jeannett Martin, regional director for the South West region of the RCN said: “NHS trusts are trying to plug the gap to ensure patients get the care they need and it is costing the NHS a huge amount of money.

“Whoever forms the next government must listen to us and take immediate action to increase training places and expand the supply of nurses. It takes three years to train a nurse so we need action now.”