NHS Grampian in Scotland has spent vast amounts of taxpayers’ money on private nurses in the last five years – almost two million pounds in this year alone, an increase in spending of 2,700%!
These shocking figures show the health board spent only £70,000 in 2011-12 and more than £1.9 million in 2015-16. NHS Highland’s spending on temporary nurses also rose by more than 200% in the same period. Its bill in 2011/12 was £326,896 – and that had more than trebled to £1,017,756 in 2015-16.
Over the past five years NHS Grampian’s total bill for agency nurses was £3,825,000 and NHS Highland’s was £3,209,000. Health boards use agency staff ‘where gaps emerge’ in the normal workforce. NHS Grampian claimed that stand-in nurses were only used in ‘exceptional circumstances’.
The cost of agency nurses varies depending on the type of work – but based on the Grampian figures the average is just over £26 per hour. A senior nurse on an NHS salary earns on average about £15 per hour.
Meanwhile, GPs are furious that patients’ records are in a mess and medical supplies are not arriving on time. Ever since private company Capita took control of the service, chaos has ensued.
Practices are now facing delays as patient records have gone missing, payments are made late and supplies have disappeared. GPs said that they have missed referrals, delayed care and are having to cancel clinics due to patient records either not being available or delayed.
‘There’s nothing at all that reassures me this isn’t going to be an absolute bloody disaster,’ was the stark warning set out two years ago by Dr Robert Morley, the head of NHS contracts, when it was first announced in July 2014 about Capita taking over. His prediction has come true.
Two years later stories of delays and missing patient records are continuing despite Capita insisting that they are ‘improving’. Capita won the £330 million contract to provide primary care support services in April 2016 – with the budget cut by 40%.
Now, a survey of more than 500 GPs and practice managers reveals that there is a major backlog of unprocessed records. The General Practioners Committee (GPC) passed a vote of no confidence in Capita in July, with chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul stating the problems are ‘putting patients at risk’ and causing ‘serious disruption’ to practices.