An east London NHS trust said it has cut back on temporary staff costs by £16million in the last year as it bids to get out of financial special measures.

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust's (BHRUT) director of workforce Alan Wishart provided an update on the trust's workforce issues to Havering councillors at a meeting on December 21.

Mr Wishart told the authority's people overview and scrutiny sub-committee that its use of temporary staff would be key to the trust leaving finance special measures, which it entered in 2018.

READ MOREPetition urges bus route extension to Queen's Hospital

At a board meeting last month, BHRUT said it had a year-to-date deficit of £19.5m at the end of September.

A presentation to the committee showed the trust, which runs Queen's Hospital in Romford and King George Hospital in Goodmayes, is now spending £84m on "high-cost" temporary staff. This is down from an annual cost of £100m a year ago.

Mr Wishart said: "We have had a problem over the years that has persisted in relation to the cost of our temporary staffing.

"We've been doing a significant piece of work to bring some of those temporary staffing costs down. Not necessarily the volume, but the amount we pay medics in the organisation."

He told councillors that the trust's vacancy rate is 14 per cent, but that figure is higher because the trust created 1,000 posts in April to tackle demand.

Mr Wishart also admitted that the rising cost of living was "having an impact" on staffing.

He cited around a dozen critical care nurses who had recently left the trust to work outside London.

His comments come in the light of strike action from Royal College of Nursing members and ambulance workers so far this month.

"Staff are very weary and we're seeing people leave," Mr Wishart told the meeting.

"During Covid, the turnover was pretty low but we've seen that creep up as the months have gone. I think we'll continue to see more staff leaving the organisation and the NHS.

"The industrial action is a real boiling point in relation to some of the challenges staff are telling us.

"It's quite difficult as a financially-challenged organisation about what we can do in relation to recruitment and retention but it's similar things that are being faced across other organisations and the NHS."

He added the trust has brought in measures to help staff with the cost-of-living crisis, including the introduction of a school uniform exchange.