To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to Answer of 30 January 2019 to Question 214461, what comparative estimate his Department has made of cost of filing 80 per cent of nursing and 85 per cent of medical vacancies with (a) the bank and agency staff and (b) permanent staff members.
We do not currently have clear estimates of the comparative cost of filling National Health Service vacancies with permanent rather than bank and agency staff. However, we do recognise that the cost of meeting the current level of staff shortages through bank and agency is greater than if those vacancies were filled by permanent staff. This is why we are working hard to boost NHS recruitment and reduce reliance on expensive agency workers.
The Department has provided a 25% increase in funding available for training places for doctors and nurses from September 2018. There are currently over 52,000 nurses in undergraduate training, over 30,000 doctors in undergraduate training, and over 50,000 doctors in foundation and specialty postgraduate medical training. The Department is continuing to work closely with universities and stakeholders to ensure the uptake of additional training places.
We are also working with NHS Improvement to implement a number of measures to reduce agency expenditure and ensure that trusts have effective and efficient banks. As a result of this work, total agency expenditure across NHS trusts in England has fallen from a peak of £3.6 billion in 2015/16 to £2.4 billion in 2017/18 – a £1.2 billion reduction.