The Health Service is wasting millions a year on agency nurses - with one hospital paying a nurse more than £1,000 for a single shift.
The payment is the most extreme example of the huge sums being spent on expensive temporary staff at a time when the NHS is rationing life- saving cancer drugs it says it cannot afford.
Agency staff were being hired as cash-strapped trusts were forced to cut the number of permanent nurses and hundreds left the service to work abroad.
The money doesn't all go to the nurses themselves, but to the temp agency that provides them. Still, $200 per hour does seem a bit extravagant in light of these problems:
The Department of Health insisted in 2001 that growth in the NHS workforce would reduce the demand for agency staff. But spending on temporary nurses rose from £795million in 2000 to £1.09billion in 2005.
Last year financial problems in many trusts meant more than 20,000 nursing jobs were cut, according to the Royal College of Nursing.
More than 8,000 demoralised nurses have registered with the RCN to work abroad.
Frontline staff say patients will die as a result of plans to downgrade or close A&E units.
Campaigners say more than 20 casualty units in England are threatened with closure while ambulance services put the figure at up to 50 of the 200 currently open all hours. Critically-ill patients will have to go to 'super A&Es' which may be many miles away.