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Expenditure on agency staff by NHS Wales

The Auditor General for Wales published his Report on Expenditure on agency staff by NHS Wales on 22 January 2019.

The “facts only” report, sets key facts about the use of NHS bodies in Wales including expenditure, analysis by health bodies of underlying reasons, national initiatives to control this type of spending; and the challenges that lie ahead.

The NHS in Wales employs almost 80,00 full-time equivalent staff (excluding GP’s and those employed directly by GP Practices) and spent £3.62 billion on pay in 2017-18.

NHS Wales also needs additional staff to supplement the full-time workforce – when key posts are vacant; staff are on sick leave, holiday or absent for some other reason; or when demand for services increases, for example through winter pressures. These posts can be filled by paid overtime; internal staff banks; private sector agencies or people who enter into a direct contract with health bodies on an ad hoc basis.

Staff supplied by agencies tend to be the most expensive source of temporary staff. NHS bodies in Wales collectively spent over £160 million on agency staff in 2016-17, more than four times the equivalent figure for 2012-13. There have also been large increases in agency spend in other UK countries.

The Public Accounts Committee considered the Report in February 2019 and agreed to seek further information from the Welsh Government. On receipt of this, the Committee agreed to questions health boards and the Welsh Government on this issue as part of the follow-up work on the implementation of the NHS Finance (Wales) Act 2014 in the summer 2019 term.

Type: For information

First published: 22/01/2019

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