NHS England spends 50% more than NHS Scotland on agency and bank staff

From another Scottish Labour freedom of information request and offered up context-free by the Herald today:

NHS Scotland has spent more than £250 million on agency nurses over the last five years – with the bill for the last year alone having almost doubled. Expenditure on locum agency nursing staff amounted to £92,295,816 in 2021-22, compared with a total of £47,627,338 the previous year.


A straight comparison with NHS England is not easy as their figures included all agency and bank staff, not just nurses.

However, Sandesh Gulhane MSP (Con) has helped. Using published data from NHS Scotland, he revealed, in June 2022, that the spend last year was £423.4 million. https://www.medscape.co.uk/viewarticle/nhs-scotland-agency-staff-spend-almost-double-2014-level-2022a1001i8b

All things being equal then, NHS England might have been expected to spend £4.2 billion but they spent 6.2 billion. https://liaisongroup.com/blog/hospitals-spent-6-2billion-on-agency-and-bank-staff-in-2019-20/

Nearly 50% more and so, to paraphrase Sandesh Gulhane Locum MSP, ‘a damning indictment of the Torie’s wasteful and inefficient management of our NHS

9 thoughts on “NHS England spends 50% more than NHS Scotland on agency and bank staff

    1. Or releasing Scottish info just after release of info from England and concentrating on the Scottish info thus ‘burying’ the English story. This has been the pattern since the SNP came to power…SNPBad

      Liked by 5 people

  1. Has Sandesh Gulhane been imported from England to improve the stock of Tory MSPs ?
    Breaking News !
    It hasn’t worked ! He is giving Turdo Fraser a run for his money in the incompetence stakes !


    1. Agency staff are a necessary evil, probably not the right terminology but reflects the intention of Gulhane and the media to present their use as a bad thing. We still have very high levels of infection from Covid, both within SNHS staff and the general public, staffing levels have probably not recovered from the brexit exodus.
      £420 million spent on agency staff to keep people save, including some of Mr Gulhanes patients is the right thing to do.

      Liked by 4 people

  2. Off-topic on Edinburgh – At about 7.10 this morning on “Today”, BBC R4, I heard Amol Rajan introduce Councillor Scott Arthur as Labour, and Convenor of the Transport and Environment Committee. In the following interview Councillor Arthur gave his view that the latest offer to the strikers was inadequate. Mr Rajan then discussed the Scottish government’s position with Councillor Arthur. There was no indication from either man that Labour controls ECC, or that the Scottish Government is not the employer.

    On Councillor Arthur’s Facebook page at about 7.30 there was a post “I’ll be on BBC Radio 4 in a couple of minutes.”

    For various reasons I no longer send complaints to the BBC. And I cannot add a link to the appropriate section. Your other readers might want to find and listen to the interviews.


    1. ‘In the following interview Councillor Arthur gave his view that the latest offer to the strikers was inadequate.’

      For whatever reason (!) the councillor is expressing a personal view – or is it the official view of City of Edinburgh Council’s Labour-led administration – that is diverging from the current stated position of COSLA. Mr Arthur and his Labour administration are members of – have influence in – COSLA. Why this breaking of a consensus by Mr Arthur – or officially by the City of Edinburgh Council – on the BBC at this time? Is he seeking to undermine COSLA’s stated position?

      Dated 29TH August 2022, this was COSLA’s formal statement on its website following the rejection of the pay offer, I reproduce it in full to highlight the contrast with what is being reported here of Mr Arthur’s BBC interview.

      ‘COSLA Disappointed in Trade Union Response to Best Local Government Pay Deal in Decades for its Valued Workforce

      ‘COSLA has today (Monday) expressed its disappointment with the Local Government Trade Unions reaction to one of the best pay deals for their workforce in decades.

      ‘The offer, NEGOTIATED ON BEHALF OF SCOTLAND’S 32 COUNCILS (my emphasis), is an overall package worth half a billion pounds, giving 5% to all staff plus an additional cost of living payment to our lowest paid employees. Based on a 37-hour week no member of staff will get less than an additional £1925 and for those earning under £20,500 at least a £2,000 pay increase – for this year and also next year.

      This has been designed to address the concerns and firm view of Trade Unions that the lowest paid must be protected during this crisis and demonstrates Local Government’s commitment to not leave anyone behind. Councils continue to strive to lead the way in pushing up minimum rates of pay and as well as this are including an extra days annual leave this year.

      ‘Councillor Katie Hagmann COSLA’s Resources Spokesperson said:
      “Council Leaders have said consistently throughout these negotiations that we absolutely value and are grateful to all of our local government workforce.

      “It is perhaps only when waste starts piling up and there is the prospect of further disruption to life with school closures that others see the hidden value local government services deliver each and every day of the year in our towns, villages and cities.

      “It is for this reason that we as employers have done everything possible to put the best offer we can to our workforce. But we are now at the absolute extremes of affordability and this is already an offer which is stretching our already stretched finances like never before.

      “This year’s offer is significantly better and different to previous offers and would have helped to support our Council workforces across the country at this difficult time.

      “That support is crucial at any time but particularly now, during the cost of living crisis the country is facing. This is why we are so disappointed with the response to it from our Trade Union colleagues.

      “Given our commitment as Employers to get to this point, we are disappointed that Trade Unions will not suspend planned strike action whilst they put this offer to members to allow workers to get back to doing what they do best, delivering high quality, essential services right across Scotland.

      “My final point to the Trade Union colleagues is that we have done everything we possibly can to get to this stage and that this offer – which is still on the table – is as good as it gets.”

      On a wider point, is it just me that finds it notable that the same trade unions, in their campaign for a pay increase for local government workers in England and Wales, have now reached a very similar place as their colleagues in Scotland in terms of an offer from employers. This has been achieved WITHOUT any industrial action to date. No comparable damage to city reputation with international tourists, no leaving piles of rubbish at street festivals in London, in order to press claims – what’s gone wrong here?

      A broadly similar deal is now being put to union members in England and Wales. If rejected, ballots on industrial action will then be held i.e. after negotiations have reached an end point not in parallel with negotiations. Can anyone more familiar with pay disputes in the public sector explain why the significant differences?


  3. I wonder what the result would be for a FOI request to SG on the number of FOI requests submitted by each political party, newspaper, and members of the public.
    I’d guess public FOI requests to be in the fractions of a %…

    Aside the “fishing expedition” nature of such FOIs, there is the implication of it having been deliberately hidden to be milked in the press release.

    However, as you rightly observed, it is the context-free presentation by Jody Harrison which is the most deplorable aspect.
    I suppose we should be grateful he didn’t deploy the Sun “EXCLUSIVE” to compound his lack of journalism.


  4. UK NHS spending is £150Billion. Nearly a quarter of all taxes and revenues raised. Agency nurses are a minor proportion of revenues spent. Brexit has meant a shortage of healthcare workers. EU workers have left and gone elsewhere. Covid meant an increase of agency workers as permanent healthcare workers were off sick.

    Often former NHS nurses or nursing staff who cannot work revolving shifts because of other caring or family commitments. They need fixed or agreeable yet hours of work or shift. They join a bank of agency staff in order to continue working. Or not use their skills if they cannot obtain gainful employment. They have to leave.


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