£200,000 per day on temps in NI

Around £200,000 per day is spent in Northern Ireland on temporary workers due to chronic understaffing in the health care system, a paper reports.

The Belfast Telegraph has claimed that £200,000 per day is spent on paying temporary workers to fill gaps in the Northern Ireland health service, with spending on agency staff expected to reach £70m this year – a 60% increase in four years.

In its investigation into staffing issues, the newspaper discovered that all five trusts have increased their expenditure on temporary staff in the past few years, with Southern and South Eastern trusts having more than doubled their spending since 2010.

The combined expenditure for all five trusts on temporary staff between April 2010 and December 2013 was £214,003,622, a 60% rise in four years despite suggestions that the practice of securing agency staff was in decline.

Patricia McKeown, Unison union, said: “Across the negotiating table we have been continually told that the practice has ceased. On the ground we are continually told by workers that it continues at full pace.”

The newspapers’ investigation comes after a number of incidents at hospitals in the country revealed A&E departments are under immense pressure and struggling to cope with demand.

Most recently, the Royal Victoria Hospital hit headlines for having left two patients waiting for treatment in A&E for over 29 hours.