skip to main content

Nursing agency spend survey


NHS Boards use supplementary staff to temporarily fill vacant posts, to cover sickness absence and maternity/paternity or annual leave, and to provide additional temporary capacity. Bank staff are NHS employees while agency staff are employed by private companies.

Spend on nursing and midwifery bank staff are available through the paybill extract from SWISS. Nursing and midwifery agency spend are reported by NHS Boards by a survey. Nursing bank and agency spend was first collected for financial year 2008/09.

The survey collects the following aggregated information for the previous financial year from NHS Boards for nursing and midwifery agency staff:

  • total hours worked during the last 12 months ending March; and
  • total cost (£) for the financial year ending March.

What data are published

The nursing agency staff spend and hours worked are updated annually in June release of the NHSScotland Workforce official statistics publication for the previous financial year. Data are reported by NHS Board. The average whole time equivalent is calculated by dividing the total hours worked by 37.5 * 52 (total contracted hours for a year).

Further information

To provide registered nurse agency services in Scotland you must be registered with the Care Inspectorate.

Quality assurance and limitations

Quality assurance

A number of steps are in place to ensure that these data are reported accurately.

  1. Each excel survey is provided to NHS Boards in the middle of March to complete for the previous financial year. The survey is signed off by the Director of Nursing within each Board.

  2. This survey is completed using data from the Finance system.

  3. Once these data have been returned to NES, each survey is checked for any completion errors or missing information, and compared with previous figures for consistency. When required, NES clarify any potential issues with data providers.

  4. These data are then processed to combine all extracts together and updated in reporting software, PowerBI. The report is then checked to ensure the values are shown accurately and any additional data intelligence are noted.

The above quality assurance processes results in accurate information being released as part of the NHSScotland Workforce official statistics publication. Therefore it is unlikely that any significant issues with the data quality would arise after publication. In the event that we are made of any major data inaccuracies we will update any outputs under a revision. 


The data provided are at a high level and it is not possible to identify spend by other variables, for example AfC Band.