NHS Wales should be praised for employing agency nurses to keep care standards high


The facts about health service pay: If NHS Wales is having to employ agency staff, perhaps it is because the Conservative Government does not provide enough funding for NHS employees. Maybe this is why so many have been lured abroad by higher pay and better standards of living.

A Freedom of Information request by the Welsh Conservatives has revealed that NHS Wales had to spend £190 million on agency doctors and nurses in the last four years. Shame on NHS Wales, right?

Well, no. This merely demonstrates the cack-handed way the Conservatives have been running the health service since taking office as part of the Coalition Government in 2010.

Does anybody remember reports last year that the Conservative-led Coalition Government had dumped 4,000 senior nurses since 2010, considering them to be “disposable” and “a quick way to save money”?

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said at the time: “We are facing a Europe-wide shortage of nursing staff and the last thing the NHS should be doing at this time is treating its highly experienced staff as disposable.

“We need to be doing everything we can to retain the skills we have in the NHS rather than using them as a quick and easy way to make savings.”

These words clearly fell on deaf ears in the Department of Health, which continued to cut nursing staff. Cuts in health spending in England are mirrored, via the Barnett formula, in funding provided to the devolved health services elsewhere in the UK, meaning that the Welsh Government has had to reduce money provided for other services in order to address the cut in spending – and service standard – caused by Tory changes.

That has taken several years to accomplish – as this blog has made clear in previous articles. The Westminster government’s grant to Wales has been cut by a massive 10 per cent since 2010.

And what has happened to our highly-qualified NHS staff members in the meantime? It seems they have been attracted abroad by foreign health services that treat their workforce with more respect.

Vox Political commenter karenmarieuk, responding to a recent article, told us: “My daughter now lives in South Africa and is treated by British staff at both her GP surgery and her local hospital.”

She asked: “Why do our health care professionals have to emigrate to earn the respect they deserve? Our nursing staff are canvassed regularly by Australia, being offered incentives such as housing and vastly improved lifestyles as well as pay that puts the UK to shame! This is just one country from many.

“When, I wonder, will the UK stop this mass exodus and try keeping staff here?”

When indeed? Never, under a Conservative government.

The Welsh Tories have shot themselves in the foot (again) with their ridiculous claims following this FoI request. The total amount spent on agency staff by NHS Wales comes to 1/120 of funding every year, to be compared with the 10 per cent cut from Conservative and Conservative-led Westminster governments.

Conservative politics has caused the problem, not a Labour-run health service.

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8 thoughts on “NHS Wales should be praised for employing agency nurses to keep care standards high

  1. wildswimmerpete

    So the NHS (meaning us) pay over the odds to agencies for agency staff. Why do we pay agencies more for the same staff – because of course agencies make profits and make donations to Tory coffers – kerching.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Good point. Perhaps this should be investigated and if any of these agencies are found to be contributing to the Tory Party, that organisation can be made to explain why it is criticising others while enriching itself.

  2. Chris Bergin

    Since the agencies supplying these nurses charge so much fot their services then surely the censure should be directed at them. Seemes like most tories have their buckets dipped inthe gravy train including a lot of M.Ps. The company makes the profit,, not the underpaid staff.

  3. ian725

    You Know Mike that it keeps coming back to the same question. The Tories have always beggared the UK so…… the same old question is repeatedly asked .WHY? oh WHY? do the British Public keep voting for a Conservative government after History shows just how much we have suffered under them. It would appear that since most of the UK do not vote Conservative that some form of Electoral Reform is a Must Have. That means that Labour has to grasp the Standard and lead the rest in a campaign for real electoral reform people will never take the Liberals seriously no matter how well meant their intentions it does need Labour to Lead and wipe the smiles off the Conservatives faces.

  4. wildswimmerpete

    Should get Labour regain power they should have learned their lesson – the first job is to reform the voting system. Last time Labour were in power they resisted any change to the electoral status quo.

    1. ian725

      I don’t believe that Labour need to be in power to launch a campaign for electoral reform. As soon as we have a new leader of labour then steps can be taken to launch a campaign with or without the help of Liberals, SNP etc. However I do believe that most of the parties would agree to electoral reform leaving the conservatives on their own and under pressure. The system would have to be agreed and it does not NEED to follow the method used in Scotland even though that would appear to be successful there are other voting systems already in use. Labour must grasp the opportunity and lead this campaign for fair electoral reform.

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