THE Great Western Hospital plans to assess what impact a clampdown on agency staff will have.

Under plans unveiled today, the Government wants to set a maximum hourly rate for temps and cap the amount trusts, that are struggling financially, can spend.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the cost of agency and contract staff across the entire NHS in England last year was £3.3bn.

In April, the Adver reported that Trust spent £1,877,083 on agency nurses in 2013/14 according to a study by the Royal College of Nursing and said yesterday it had cut the amount spent on agency staff by £1.5 million since 2013/14.

Mr Hunt said: “The NHS is a public service and needs to show restraint on handing out generous pay packages as a matter of course.

“Expensive staffing agencies are quite simply ripping off the NHS. It’s outrageous that taxpayers are being taken for a ride by companies charging up to £3,500 a shift for a doctor.

“The NHS is bigger than all of these companies, so we’ll use that bargaining power to drive down rates and beat them at their own game.”

Hospitals often need to hire agency staff due to employee shortages, according to Oonagh Fitzgerald, the Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s director of human resources.

She said: “Employing permanent staff is a significant challenge for the NHS, due in part to a national shortage in particular of qualified nurses.

“Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has reduced its agency spend by £1.5m since 2013/14, but we still need agency staff to ensure our wards and departments are safe.

“We continue to work hard to reduce our dependency on agency staff and we are increasing controls on this often expensive cost to the organisation.

“The Government announced on Tuesday national measures aimed at controlling the cost of agency staff and we will be assessing what this means for us in due course.”

To combat agency costs GWH has held recruitment drives for new healthcare staff in recent months.

The new measures, which will be phased in over the next few months, will also include a cap of £50,000 to all management consultancy contracts.

Any trust needing to exceed this for clinical reasons will have to get permission from the regulator, Monitor, or the trust development authority.

Tom Hadley, Recruitment and Employment Confederation director, said: “The language and tone from Jeremy Hunt is outrageous.

“Nobody objects to there being set parameters for pricing of agency staff, but they already exist in the form of NHS framework agreements.”