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Tuesday, 25 June, 2002, 20:06 GMT 21:06 UK
Jail faces cash crisis over nurse fees
Bristol Prison
The prison's nursing fees are more than 1,000 a day
A prison's finances are being stretched to the limit because it is paying out thousands of pounds to staff the hospital wing with freelance nurses.

A shortage of staff nurses at Bristol Prison means the governor is being forced to buy in agency staff, he said.

Agencies can demand up to 100 an hour for each nurse and governor Nick Wall said he is being forced to hire up to five nurses a day because of inmates' mental health problems.

Mr Wall said if no solution is found, other parts of the prison's operation would have to be cut to fill a hole in the budget.


If this continues I will have to look at a reduction elsewhere in the regime

Nick Wall, prison governor

Governor Nick Wall said: "It is pretty drastic, taking out money where I would like to spend it elsewhere.

"I have to balance the books and ensure it doesn't have a drastic effect on the prison regime or on staff.

"If this continues I will have to look at a reduction elsewhere in the regime."

Charles Walker, from the Federation of Nursing Agencies, said a 100 an hour fee applied during a bank holiday in April, when a nurse was required to work at the prison at short notice.

"The governor is a victim of general nursing shortages," he said.

"The reason why hospitals have to use temporary agencies is because they can't fill permanent positions - particularly in the case of prisons.

"It is a special nurse that wants to make a career working in a prison."


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