I am writing about your headline on The Star, TRUST’S £90m AGENCY BILL, on April 24.
I am a retired GP and I also worked as a nursing assistant before going to Sheffield University Medical School.
There are quite a few reasons why hospitals use agency.
There is a national shortage of nurses, midwives and other allied health professionals. Pay has been frozen.
Up to the last academic year, there were no tuition fees to study nursing or midwifery.
In fact , they received an annual bursary as some of the training was on wards.
As from September 2016, there is an annual tuition fee of £9,250. The courses run for three years and that makes a total of £27,750. The bursary has been stopped. Not only do they need to take out loans for the fees but now also for maintenance.
Assuming they need at least £5,000 per annum for board and lodging as well as books and travel (higher in London and in cities) that amounts to at least £15,000. That is a potential debt of £42,750, even before they start work. The interest rates are likely to go up for student loans, as was reported in the national media.
Predictably, UCAS reported a decrease in the number of nurses applying. I don’t think any young adult will be happy with that debt.
With Brexit looming, nurses and other health professionals won’t be allowed in. The non EU (Commonwealth) has already stopped.
If there aren’t the correct number of nurses to patient ratio, then care suffers. If the trusts employ agency nurses they get criticised. You need to pose these questions to the government. The NHS is going through a difficult time, both for patients and staff. If it weren’t for the goodwill of the NHS staff the NHS would have already broken down.
Dr V Velamail