Professor James Buchan, nursing workforce expert at Edinburgh's Queen Margaret University, said some trusts were deliberately keeping vacancies open with the intention of using agency staff to plug gaps at the last minute.
said it helped trusts control their finances on a day-to-day basis, rather than making long term investments in permanent nurses.
"Agency use in some cases does reflect difficulty in recruitment, but in others it is also a deliberate decision by trusts to maintain a higher level of longer term vacancies to try and exert more financial control when times are difficult," he
also noted that, while there were more WTE nurses in the NHS than when the Stafford Hospital scandal occurred, it was only a marginal increase when broken down among trusts.
As of May, there were 317,400 NHS nurses, midwives and health visitors, compared to around 310,800 in 2010.
"There is a risk of reversing into a Mid Staffs-type situation again - given the compounding factors of financial constraint and supply difficulties around recruiting and retaining experienced, permanent nurses," he