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‘NHS midwife agency spend could solve midwife shortage’

17 October, 2016

‘NHS midwife agency spend could solve midwife shortage’

Last year the NHS spent over £72m on agency, overtime and bank midwives, shows a new report. 

For the same cost, 3318 full-time midwives could have been employed, solving the current midwife shortage in England, says the RCM.  

The report, Agency, bank and overtime spending in maternity units in England in 2015, is the result of an RCM Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

The request was sent to all NHS trusts in England with maternity services and asked how much they had spent on agency and bank staff and overtime each month in 2015.
 
The FOI had a response rate of over ninety percent (91.5%), with 123 trusts across England responding.
  
The average spend per hour on agency staff was £41.25, while the highest average monthly spend was in December 2015 at £50.58 an hour.
 
In total, NHS organisations spent £72,698,200 on agency, overtime and bank midwives.
 
Jon Skewes, RCM director for policy, employment relations and communications, said: ‘The findings of this report are deeply concerning and clearly reveal that many trusts within England are far too reliant on agency and bank midwives.

‘This is an incredibly expensive and wasteful way to staff maternity units and it simply cannot continue. For over a decade now the RCM has warned that an over reliance on temporary staff will inevitably cost more in the long run.’
 
‘In England currently there is a shortage of 3,500 midwives. This report shows that for the £72m that the NHS spent on temporary midwives the NHS could have employed enough midwives, which could have stemmed that shortage in 2015. Indeed, it could solve the midwife shortage.’

He concluded: ‘Women deserve high quality and safe care and evidence shows that women’s outcomes improve when they see the same team of midwives. The way for trusts to provide this is to ensure their units are staffed correctly with the right numbers of permanent midwives rather than relying on temporary staff.’

For more information and to read the full report, click here.

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