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Hospital spends £5.6million on temps in seven months
12:10pm Thursday 19th December 2013 in News
A SHORTAGE of doctors at Southend Hospital has led the trust which runs it to overspend by £5.6million in the space of just seven months.
The extra money was spent hiring in agency and locum staff between April and October to cover sickness and unfilled vacancies, with the A&E department the worst-affected.
Last month Basildon Hospital admitted it spent £10.2 million on temps in 2012/13 – almost twice as much as it did the previous year.
However, NHS managers say the alternative to spending the money would have been to leave wards understaffed.
Southend Hospital’s personnel director Sandra Le Blanc pointed to a national shortage of medical staff and said all hospitals were finding it hard to get enough medics, and especially A&E doctors.
She added: “However, we are pleased a recent successful European recruitment campaign has seen us fill four vacant medical staff roles in emergency services, which has helped us to fill previously- advertised posts.”
Trusts are allowed to hire in agency staff to cover staff vacancies, and help at short notice at busy times and when medics were off sick.
It costs almost twice as much to hire a consultant, via an agency, as it does to directly employ one on about £90,000ayear.
A spokesman for the British Medical Association, said: “Trusts should seek to givevalue formoney andrecruit consultants to substantive posts where possible.
“Some specialties are, however, facing a recruitment crisis because of gruelling workloads, overstretched staff and limited resources.
“To stem this problem, we urgently need to address issues around workload pressures, resourcing and work-life balance.
“Only by making working practices and environments safe and sustainable, will the hospitals be able attract and retain the required number and mix of doctors.”
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