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Staffing agencies triple rates as care homes and NHS fight over nurses

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Nursing shortages are allowing “profiteering” staffing agencies to triple their rates, care leaders have warned, raising the risk of vulnerable patients being forced to move care homes and increasing the burden on the NHS.

The crisis is forcing some nursing homes to become standard residential care homes without support for people with chronic diseases.

The shortage also makes it harder for NHS hospitals to discharge patients. Some hospitals have redeployed their own staff into nursing homes to free beds in hospitals. In other places, NHS trusts are competing for staff with care providers.

Geoff Butcher, director of Blackadder Corporation, which runs six homes in the West Midlands, said that he paid nurses about £19.50 an hour, slightly higher than the NHS rate of £16.52. “Two of our nurses resigned recently and they’ve gone to an agency for £35 an hour,” he said. “And that agency then came to us and said we can have these staff back at £52 an hour. They want £95 an hour for those nurses on a bank holiday nightshift. It’s utterly unaffordable.

“Because the NHS can’t recruit they are having to use these agencies as well. So the NHS is bidding against us, therefore they’re pushing the rates up, and the whole thing has gone into a completely crazy spiral. The agencies are just grossly profiteering out of it."

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Source: The Guardian, 14 November 2021

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