MORE than 40,000 shifts were sent out to agencies to cover nursing staff shortages in Herefordshire in just one year, it has been revealed.

The grand total of 40,919 included 32,540 Band 5 nurse shifts and 8,379 Band 2 healthcare assistant shifts. 

The information, which includes the cost of agency workers to Herefordshire's Wye Valley NHS Trust, covers the period from July 2022 to the end of June 2023 and was revealed by a freedom of information request. 

Wye Valley NHS Trust said that the shifts were put out to their master vend agency, ID Medical, with a smaller number then put out to their tier three escalation agency, Thornbury.

In total, 25,421 shifts were filled by ID Medical agency staff during the period, while 1,117 were filled by Thornbury staff.


Both the number of shifts sent out to agencies and the number of staff supplied by agencies fell in the final three months of the period.

This was reflected in the agency staffing bill, which also fell sharply from over £1,000,000 per month from July 2022 to March 2023, to under £770,000 from April 2023 to June 2023. 

The total agency spend over the period amounted to more than £12,600,000, with an average hourly rate of £48.11, the response from the trust said.

What are your thoughts?

You can send a letter to the editor to have your say by clicking here.

Letters should not exceed 250 words and local issues take precedence.

An investigation by trade union the Royal College of Nursing has found the trusts which run all England’s NHS hospitals spent a total of £3.2 billion on agency nurses between 2020 and 2022 inclusive, with marked rises in each year.

The union said the billions “squandered on agencies” could have been used to hire over 31,000 nurses.

It blamed poor government planning and underfunding of the NHS, which it said had left health trusts with little choice given the 40,000 current unfilled staff nursing vacancies nationally.