FILLING more than a thousand vacancies with temporary and expensive agency staff is costing the NHS in Worcestershire more than £39 million every year.

Health bosses say they are battling to find and keep staff in the NHS with many exhausted staff quitting or retiring.

At the moment around 1,300 positions are vacant across Herefordshire and Worcestershire which have been filled with temporary ‘bank’ staff – who are employed by the NHS – and independent and more expensive agency workers.

Around 15 per cent of staff moved away in the last 12 months with eight per cent of staff leaving the NHS altogether.

Exhausted staff said “sustained pressure” was the main reason for quitting.

Sarah Dugan, chief executive of Herefordshire and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust, said the biggest problem the NHS was facing was keeping hold of workers with staff retiring said to be the single biggest cause.

A report discussed by Worcestershire County Council’s health overview and scrutiny committee said: “While this approach shores up the system in the short term, it contributes to decreasing retention of healthcare professionals across the system in the long term as individuals move to agency and locum work because of the greater pay, flexibility and control that it offers.”

Vacancies are even higher in nursing and specialist roles – currently sitting between eight and ten per cent – such as haematology, orthodontics, cancer, neurology and stroke services.

Concerns have also been raised about finding staff to fill the roles with many specialists snubbing Worcestershire to work in bigger hospital trusts.

Health bosses said the county is not always seen as an “attractive destination.”

The county’s health bosses say that are also turning to other countries to find staff.

Chief executive Sarah Dugan told councillors: “It’s working well, but we need to think about a sustained, local workforce.”