'AGENCY STAFF A HUGE COST'.
BETSI Cadwaladr University Health Board has partly blamed its reliance on temporary staff as the cause behind an estimated overspend of PS42m.
In February alone it spent PS2.7m on agency workers as it battles with recruitment problems, particularly in attracting more nurses to the region.
The use of agency nurses has been particularly high at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, where PS800,000 was spent on such cover in the same month.
The region's health board's poor budgetary performance has been highlighted as one of the reasons why it has been in special measures for almost four years.
At a meeting of board members, officials said the demand on the health system had led to an increase in temporary staff.
In a report presented at Glyndwr University in Wrexham, Russell Favager, executive director of finance, said: "Agency nurses continue to support the sustained pressures arising from unscheduled care and provide cover for the large number of vacancies in secondary care. The use of agency nurses is particularly an issue for Wrexham and Ysbyty Glan Clwyd, which together account for 85.8 per cent of these costs in February.
"In contrast to medical agency, nurse agency costs are at the highest level for the year to date due to increased costs seen in Wrexham."
According to a separate report, there are significant gaps between the budgeted number of permanent staff and those actually in post across the organisation.
Overall the difference accounts for around 1,400 full-time workers.
It has resulted in approximately PS35m being spent on temporary staff.