Agencies given the blame for Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital’s overspend on nurses
- Credit: PA
Nursing agencies are failing to comply with NHS guidelines on pricing, a meeting has heard.
Agencies employing nurses for hospitals in Norfolk and Cromer are being paid up to £53 for each hour a nurse works – well above NHS Improvements' price cap of £22.55.
It's part of the reason why the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (NNUH), which also runs Cromer Hospital, now has a shortfall of more than 200 nurses.
The trust's director of workforce, Jeremy Over, told a meeting of the trust's board yesterday: 'The biggest frustration for us at the moment is the need to comply with price cap rules.
'Only 25pc of suppliers are complying with the price cap levels sanctioned by NHS Improvements.'
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The meeting heard that in June the trust spent £1.6m on agency nurses and allied health professionals, which was about £200,000 more than the previous month and £1m above its target.
Mr Over said two-thirds of this overspend would vanish if agencies stuck to the price cap.
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Agencies charge between £22 and £43 per hour for nurses on weekdays, and between £29 and £53 per hour at weekends.
The price cap is higher for night-time, weekend and bank holiday work.
Workforce lead director Emma McKay said that of 440 shifts filled by agency nurses last week, only one of them complied with the price cap.
Mr Over said the trust faced a similar problem with overspending on locum doctors.
The trust is working to build up its 'nurse bank' with the goal of reducing the agency nurses it employs.
The trust also hopes to recruit 100 newly-qualified nurses in September and is looking at recruiting agency nurses from overseas.
However, there are concerns about the impact of the Brexit vote will have on the recruitment of nurses.
In May, this newspaper reported that there were more than 500 nursing places left unfilled across the region, including 195 at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.
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