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Almost £4million was spent on temporary staff to keep Queen’s Hospital’s A&E running in just a year.

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A freedom of information request by the Labour Party revealed that Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT) forked out £3.8m in 2012/13.

Locum staff cost far more than those directly employed, especially in emergency care where senior consultants demand a premium.

The staggering figure could be even higher this financial year because of the worsening situation with the chronic shortage of permanent staff.

It was a major factor in the decision to put the trust, which also runs King George Hospital in Goodmayes, into special measures following a damning CQC report last month.

Inspectors found that doctors and nurses were avoiding the trust because of its “reputation”.

Last year, BHRUT resorted to recruiting abroad in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, India and the UAE to staff A&E.

The trust’s medical director, Stephen Burgess, said the huge spend on locums was necessary to keep staffing at safe levels.

He added: “We are working tirelessly to recruit and retain high quality permanent staff in our emergency departments.

“Using locum staff costs considerably more, and we also know that having permanent staff in place leads to better continuity of care and therefore an improved patient experience.”

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