More than half a billion pounds on agency staff would have been better spent on strengthening our Welsh NHS by recruiting, reskilling and retaining health professionals, the Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Health has warned.
Six Welsh health boards spent excessive sums – totalling £550,116,528.27 – on agency staff between 2016 – 2020, a Freedom of Information request (FoI) by the Welsh Conservatives has discovered.
But the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board is yet to disclose its costs, meaning the current eye-watering total spend on agency staff is likely to exceed the current sum.
Commenting on the find, the Shadow Minister for Health, Social Care and Sport, Andrew RT Davies MS, said:
“Our Welsh NHS is rightly a cherished institution, with dedicated staff working tirelessly to deliver first-class care to their patients.
“But it is nothing short of a scandal that – after more than two decades - this Welsh Labour-led Government is still holding back our NHS. Mismanaging funding, refusal to listen to staff – you name it, the Welsh Labour-led Government is doing it.
“Spending large funds on agency staff is a short-term solution, when NHS Wales needs a sustainable, long-term one.
“More than half a billion pounds would have been better spent on recruiting, reskilling and – crucially - retaining essential health professionals. It is key that we not only equip staff with the necessary tools but also retain them – and not just for the short term.
“The Welsh Conservatives have a catalogue of robust measures which, if elected as the Welsh Government next year, will be swiftly introduced to revitalise our Welsh NHS, including a £34 million-a-year scheme on offering nursing apprenticeships.
“One of the biggest threats facing our NHS here in Wales is the complacency of this Welsh Labour-led Government. Ultimately, if it continues to fail to both invest and introduce measures to strengthen our NHS workforce then there will be no health service.
“I can pledge that a Welsh Conservative Government will be loaded with new ideas and fresh eyes to finally deliver for our Welsh NHS.”