Latest figures have shown that the cost of employing bank and agency nurses in the NHS has fallen by £3m in Scotland.
Official statistics show £99.06m was spent on bank nurses last year, compared with £99.34m during the previous 12 months.
Bank nurses are employed by the NHS as and when they are needed.
The figures showed that spending on agency staff, employed by private firms, also fell from £10.39m to £8.18m over the same period.
In total, the health service saved £3.13m of the 12 months.
Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: “We are continuing to ensure NHS boards across Scotland scrutinise the quality and efficiency of absolutely everything they do. These figures show this is paying off.
“The downward trend in the costs of agency nursing is evidence of this, with the money saved retained by NHS boards and ploughed back into frontline patient care.”
The annual sickness absence rate in 2009-10 was 4.75%, down 0.2% on the previous year but still short of a health service target of 4%.
Labour health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie hit out at Ms Sturgeon’s comments after the recent announcement that 4,000 NHS jobs will be lost over the coming year, including at least 1,500 nursing posts.
“Patient care is already suffering with thousands of operations cancelled by hospitals because staff and resources are being overstretched,” she said.
Copyright © Press Association 2010