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NHS midwife agency spend could solve midwife shortage says RCM in new report

14 October, 2016

NHS midwife agency spend could solve midwife shortage says RCM in new report

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Last year the NHS spent over £72million on agency, overtime and bank midwives. For the same cost 3,318 fulltime midwives could have been employed solving the current midwife shortage in England. This is according to a new report published today by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) ahead of their annual conference which takes place on 19th -20th of October.

The report entitled ‘Agency, Bank and Overtime spending in maternity units  in England in 2015’ is the result of an Freedom of Information (FOI) request sent to all NHS trusts in England with maternity services. The FOI 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 key findings include:

  • Agency spending on maternity staff in the NHS in 2015 was £24,950,157.
  • The average spends per hour on agency staff was £41.25. The highest average monthly spend was in December 2015 when spending peaked at £50.58 per hour.
  • NHS organisations spent £4,522,440 on overtime for midwives in England in 2015.
  • NHS organisations spent £43,225,603 on bank midwives in England in 2015. The average spend per hour for bank midwives was £25.63 per hour.
  • In total, NHS organisations spent £
  • £72,698,200 is enough money to pay for 2,063 full time, experienced midwives (paid at the top of band 6 at £35,255 a year) or 3,318 full time, newly qualified midwives (starting salary is £21,909 per year).
  • Out of the highest twenty spenders on bank, agency and overtime twelve were London trusts.

Commenting Jon Skewes Director for Policy, Employment Relations and Communications at the RCM says; “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 £72 million 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.”

“The FOI conduced by the RCM revealed that there were 23 trusts that spent over £1 million pounds on agency staff and twelve of the highest spenders were in London. An over reliance on temporary staff is clearly more expensive than employing the correct number of permanent staff and needs to be corrected sooner rather than later.”

“The best solution to this problem is to eliminate the shortage of midwives by training and employing more midwives, and retaining existing midwives by treating them fairly and valuing them. This can only be achieved by fair pay policies and granting flexible working requests.”

“The RCM is also asking for the Government to rethink it’s plans to abolish the bursary for midwifery students as we fear it will deter students wanting to train to be midwives and this will in turn further compound the shortage of midwives in England and increase the reliance on short term staff.

“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.”

*Agency, Bank and Overtime spending in maternity units in England in 2015 – Read the report here https://www.rcm.org.uk/pay from 22.30 Saturday, 15th October 2016.

The launch of the latest RCM report comes ahead of the  RCMs annual conference 2016 which takes place on 19th -20th of October at Harrogate International Conference Centre.

The theme for 2016 is Safety, Standards and Experience – more details available here: http://www.rcmconference.org.uk/

To contact the RCM Press Office call 020 7312 3456 or email pressofficer@rcm.org.uk.

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Notes to editors

The RCM is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences and online resources. For more information visit the RCM website at https://www.rcm.org.uk/.

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