Agency staff costs slashed but bill still hits £835,000

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NHS organisations give advice on where to get treatment this winter

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THE amount of money spent on agency staff has decreased with South Central Ambulance Service (Scas) spending nearly £1m.

The trust spent £835,000 in 2016/17 on agency paramedics.

Nationally, £31m was spent in 2016/17 on agency staff, down from £49m the year before.

Alan Lofthouse, Unison national ambulance officer, has called on the government to start investing in the service and workforce.

He said: ‘The huge sums spent on private ambulance services expose the pressures on staff due to soaring demand.

‘Experienced and highly-trained employees are leaving because of the strain.

‘Paying agency workers to fill the gaps is putting patient safety and the wellbeing of crews at risk.

‘The money would be better spent training new staff and holding onto existing ones.

‘The government must start investing properly in the ambulance service and its workforce.’

Yorkshire Ambulance Service spent £176,693 and South Western service spent £317,905.

The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust also saw a rise in spending on emergency staff from agencies, including paramedics.

It spent £2,301,377 on emergency staff in 2016/17, up from just £49,211 the year before and £1,608 in 2014/15.

Six trusts in total provided data on how much they spent on other frontline staff, such as agency nurses, GPs and healthcare assistants.

This showed more than £2.8m was spent on these staff in 2016/17.

Scas said the only alternative to using private providers would be a reduced level of service.