Letters

I read with interest your thoughtful feature by Seamus Ward and Alison Moore investigating the current NHS over-reliance on agency staff ('Do the locum motive', pages 26-30, 28 September).

The article is a good one, but, I fear, underestimates the gravity of the staff difficulties now facing the NHS on the nursing front. Go-nursing.co.uk (the independent Internet platform your piece describes) is being launched in response to our first-hand knowledge of the current situation. Our figures now suggest that NHS agency spend in England and Wales for the quarter to the end of September is up by 54 per cent on the same period last year, and in Scotland spend has risen by 71 per cent.

These indicators point to the NHS currently spending at a rate of£500m a year on agency support alone (of which£100m would be the commission element), before taking into account probably another£500m a year spending on nurse bank activities.

Our platform has therefore been designed to move the balance of commercial advantage decisively away from nursing agencies, despite the current chronic general shortage of nurses, and back into the hands of the NHS. We anticipate it could produce annual savings nationally of at least£50m on the agency commission element alone, together with much-improved efficiency in the NHS deployment of bank and agency staff in general.

John Sloss Director go-nursing.co.uk Bristol