The Scottish government’s spending on agency staff for the NHS, in 2016/2017 was £171 million or £469 543 per day.
Here’s the Scotsman headline today and the full exposure to an evidence-free Tory rant:
‘NHS spent almost £500k a day on agency staff, report shows: The Conservatives said the figures, disclosed by Health Secretary Shona Robison in an answer to a parliamentary question from party health spokesman Miles Briggs, indicate the government has “failed” to ensure sufficient staff levels in the NHS. Miles Briggs said: “Agency staff are really important in our NHS as they are flexible and can fill short-term staffing gaps, as well as reducing waiting lists. However, the SNP mismanagement of the NHS has clearly led to a long-term reliance on agency staff at very high cost. These figures expose the utter hypocrisy of the SNP as it has consistently spoken against private involvement in the NHS whilst spending half a million pounds each day to agency staff. The SNP has totally failed to ensure that staffing levels in the NHS are sufficient, and with morale at rock bottom among doctors and nurses, this will only get worse. It’s time the SNP took responsibility for this situation, get on with the day job, and make sure our NHS has enough staff to function properly.” The figure is down £2.8 million on the previous financial year but has risen by around £76 million in a decade.’
That’s a lot of free and rabid anti-SNP propaganda for nothing. Of course, it saves the Scotsman money too in labour costs.
Now, I know the Scotsman/Tory alliance doesn’t like whitabootery unless it serves their interests but whitaboot ‘context’ (see any guide to good journalism) so whitaboot England? I wrote on the very same issue last year, for 2014/2015, at:
Scottish Tories feed BBC Reporting Scotland with more distortions to mislead the public as NHS Scotland, under the SNP, massively reduces the cost of agency nurses and NHS England, under the Tories, loses control of mind-boggling costs.
However, it’s only right that I check the 2016/17 figures from NHS England. Well according to their own figures, NHS England spent ‘£250 million a month or £8.3 million per day’ in 2016/17.
Here we go again. England has almost exactly 10 times the population, yet NHS England is spending 17.67 times the amount on agency staff. It took me about 15 minutes to gather this contextual information. Are Scotsman writers too hard-pressed for even that?
As for the Tory rant, I leave you to marvel at its awesome fictional qualities and perhaps to calculate what percentage of the total NHS Scotland spend of over £13 billion was spent on agency staff. Oh OK, it’s 1.3%, a virtual privatisation of our NHS!