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Queen’s Hospital’s NHS trust spends £47 an hour on agency staff ... and misses government targets

PUBLISHED: 07:00 28 December 2016

Queen's Hospital

Queen's Hospital

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The NHS trust which serves Havering is forking out up to £47 an hour for agency staff, and failing to meet government pay targets for locum doctors.

A Freedom of Information (FoI) request revealed that between 21 September and 9 October, the Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust (BHRUT) spent more than £1.5million on temporary workers.

In that two-and-a-half week period the trust, which runs Queen’s Hospital, in Romford, used 613 agency personnel, who worked 32,867 hours.

On top of that BHRUT has failed to meet the government’s agency price caps, which limits the amount locum doctors and other temporary workers can be paid above staff wages.

Agency doctors are used when hospitals are short of staff, and they usually receive higher pay that workers on annual contracts.

But in November last year the NHS Improvement Agency put a limit on how much more temporary staff be paid.

Locum wages were capped at 150 per cent on top of a normal junior doctor’s salary, and this was decreased to 55pc in April, yet BHRUT has breached these caps more than 100 times every week since they were introduced.

“The safety of our patients is our highest priority and in some cases, to ensure we’ve got the right numbers of staff to look after them, we do need to use agency staff,” said Jeff Buggle, finance director at BHRUT.

“We know we have more to do to bring down what we spend on agency staff.

“We’ve increased the number of roles filled over the last 12 months and when we do need to bring in additional staff, we always look to our own internal bank of staff before going to an agency.”

A further FoI revealed that the trust has estimated that 27 job positions – ranging from the cardiology department to paediatric staff – have remained unfilled since April 2013.

Mr Buggle told the Recorder that BHRUT is putting together a two year nursing recruitment strategy and has already successfully added an extra 55 nurses and midwives over the past two months.

He added that next year the trust will recruit emergency consultants from South Africa.

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