Health bosses in the north-east have cut spending on agency workers to protect staffing budgets amid “ongoing recruitment challenges”, a new report said.
NHS Grampian spent £37.2 million on agency staff in 2017/18 – £4.1m less than the previous year – and a new report said more work will be done to further reduce the figure.
The report, to be presented to a board meeting at Moray College, right, this morning, highlighted the staff challenges hospitals such as Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and Elgin’s Dr Gray’s face due to an ageing workforce, Brexit and other factors.
NHS Grampian employs 14,478 people and the average worker is aged 43. Some 30.3% of its nurses are aged 40 or over.
The report said that this “highlights a risk to the sustainability of the workforce, particularly in light of changes to the pension age”.
The report, to be presented by the board’s workforce director Annie Ingram, added: “(We) must support employees to work for longer. Some staff could retire aged 55.”
The report did not say how many NHS Grampian staff come from European Union countries outside of the UK, but said it is a “significant number”.
It said that Brexit “continues to create uncertainty over the status of EU workers, particularly within the NHS”.
It added: “The impact will not become clear until the UK Government and the EU have concluded Brexit negotiations.
“Work will be progressed in NHS Grampian to determine what these risks might be.”
Another factor is people living in EU countries might be reluctant to apply for NHS Grampian posts until there is Brexit certainty.
Concluding, the report said: “There are ongoing challenges with recruitment, particularly in relation to nursing and midwives.”
It added that continued innovation and investment in new roles, as well as collaboration with other organisations would help NHS Grampian fulfil its future ambitions.