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The £97m bill for 'midwife shortage'

From BBC - October 30, 2017

UK maternity units are turning to expensive temporary staffing arrangements such as overtime and agency staff to plug gaps in midwife rotas, union leaders say.

Royal College of Midwives data showed the bill hit nearly 100m in 2016, with services having to pay hourly fees twice as high as the normal rates.

The union said that was enough to cover the "national shortage" of 3,500 staff.

The findings come as the RCM's annual conference got under way in Manchester.

It compiled the figures using the Freedom of Information Act, receiving responses from 159 local maternity services, close to 99% of those asked.

Services were asked for their spending on three types of temporary staffing arrangements:

A total of 97m was spent last year.

By far the biggest area of spending was on the NHS bank, which accounted for two-thirds of the bill.

The RCM said the fact maternity services were turning to these arrangements on such a scale showed the service was "under-staffed and under-resourced".

It also highlighted the levels of pay required to get these staff to fill shifts - the average hourly spend on agency staff was 43.65, compared with 18.20 for a staff midwife with 10 years' experience in England and Wales.

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