NHS Trusts: Temporary Employment

Department of Health written question – answered on 25th April 2017.

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Photo of Sharon Hodgson Sharon Hodgson Shadow Minister (Public Health)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what the total expenditure of NHS trusts on agency and contract staff was in each year since 2009-10; and how much NHS trusts plan to spend on such staff in 2017-18.

Photo of Philip Dunne Philip Dunne The Minister of State, Department of Health

The total costs to National Health Service trusts and NHS foundation trusts of agency staff since 2013-14 are shown in the table below. It is not possible to provide equivalent figures for 2009-10 to 2012-13 due to a change in the data collection.

2013-14 (£ million)

2014-15 (£ million)

2015-16 (£ million)

Total costs




My Rt. hon. Friend the Secretary of State introduced a series of measures to bring agency spending back under control in 2015. As a result, at Quarter 3 2016-17, the NHS had spent £500 million less than at the same point in the previous year.

NHS Improvement recently wrote to trusts outlining a series of additional measures to curb spending on medical locums, including increased transparency of rates paid to highest earners, improved managerial oversight, and work with the Royal Colleges to bring locums into the substantive workforce.

Further, there is a national target to reduce medical agency expenditure by £150 million in 2017/18. All trusts will be required to agree an improvement target on medical locum spending with NHS Improvement, and many are already setting ambitious plans.

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