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East Lancashire hospitals pay temporary staff £1.2m
9:22am Friday 16th August 2013 in East Lancashire
THE Royal Blackburn and Burnley General hospitals are still relying heavily on temporary staff, which NHS inspectors said ‘compromised the quality of care’.
The latest human resources report shows East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust spent £1.2 million on temps in May, against a target spend of £800,000.
The bill includes locum doctors and agency nurses, who can cost three times more than permanent workers.
Earlier this year the Lancashire Telegraph revealed the temporary staffing bill for 2012/13 was £13million, against the £9.6million target.
The ongoing overspend is despite severe pressure to cut costs. The hospitals need to find savings of £85million over the next five years, with bosses preparing to axe 500 permanent jobs to make up that cash.
Of the bill for May, more than £200,000 went on agency nurses, who cost £32.70 per hour for an average Band 5, compared to a staff nurse who earns £12.99 per hour.
About £193,000 (15 per cent) went on registrars, who are mid-level doctors.
Last month’s Keogh Report, which made wide-ranging criticisms of the way the hospitals have been run, also flagged up the issue.
The inspectors said: “The organisation has a high number of temporary staff which compromises the quality of care for patients.
“During the unannounced visit (the) emergency department had three out of eight nurses on the night shift that were agency staff.”
The hospitals’ HR boss Ian Brandwood said: “On occasions we do need to secure temporary staff to cover for vacancies and absence to ensure that we continue to deliver high quality patient care.
“In some particular specialties there remains a national shortage of suitably qualified staff.
“However, the trust has recently implemented a number of initiatives to reduce our spend on agency staff, including recruiting 30 registered nurses and 30 unregistered nurses and employing more full-time staff across the board.
“Staffing levels are now at their highest levels for almost three years. Although there is still more work to be done, we are confident that we will soon see our temporary staff spend reduce.”
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