Agency staff cost NHS trust £130,000 a month

HOSPITAL bosses could save nearly £130,000 a month if they stopped using expensive agency medics and used locums instead.

Over the course of 2012/13, the NHS in Worcestershire could save £1.5 million if all medical agency staff were replaced by locums, which are half the cost.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust spent £1.4 million on temporary staffing (medical and nursing) in June alone and £4.2 million so far this financial year.

The costs are being incurred at a time when the trust is battling to close a £2.7 million deficit, although trust leaders have made savings plans to close the gap during this year.

When the trust cannot fill a shift with their own staff working their usual hours, they try to use bank staff (their own staff who agree to work extra shifts).

But where the trust cannot do this, they have to turn to more expensive agency staff to provide care at Worcestershire Royal Hospital in Worcester and the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch.

National problems recruiting staff, particularly middle grade doctors, have also been blamed for the costs – with work under way to supply more locums and fixed-term posts.

Bev Edgar, the trust’s interim director of human resources, said at a meeting of the trust board: “It’s a national issue that isn’t going to be resolved immediately.”

Finance director Chris Tidman said: “The level of bank shifts filled has remained stable, while the number of agency shifts has fallen. “However, all are significantly higher than the same time last year.

“The high usage of agency nurses is of particular concern since they are typically double the cost of bank nurses.”

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