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Monday, 01 September 2014

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Furness Hospital £9m overspend

MORE than £9m has been overspent on temping staff by the organisation responsible for running Furness General Hospital in Barrow.

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REACTION Mandy Telford

The University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust is desperately trying to address the issue, caused by sickness and recruitment problems.

As of the end of February, UHMBT had spent £5,640,000 more than planned on agency medical staff, which covers locum doctors, this financial year. It paid out £7,654,000 against a planned £2,014,000.

In February alone, it spend £827,000 on locums – £652,000 more than the £175,000 it had planned and significantly higher than previous months.

Bank and agency nursing staff is another problem area. Up to February 28, the trust had overspent £3,696,000, having paid £5,071,000 instead of £1,375,000.

In February, it spent £491,000 – £419,000 more than the planned £72,000.

The trust, which also runs Westmorland General Hospital, Royal Lancaster Infirmary, Queen Victoria Hospital in Morecambe and Ulverston Community Health Centre, has also overspent £260,000 on accommodation costs for agency staff.

The heavy use of bank, agency and locum staff leaves the trust just over £4m over target on overall pay costs for the first eleven months of the year. This is due to underspending in other categories of pay, namely permanent employees’ wages.

Speaking at a trust board meeting, deputy chief executive and director of finance, Tim Bennett, said: “This is a major area of focus for the executive directors and the whole management team.

“We have agreed an action plan. There are areas where we have genuine difficulties because of national shortages and filling certain posts, but that’s not the case across the whole of the organisation.”

Paul Jones, interim director of human resources and organisational development, added: “There’s a variety of problems.

“Some are vacancies we haven’t been able to recruit to. We’re trying to agree with each division what are these hard-to-fill vacancies and trying to come up with a plan. In some, it will be improving the job role, in others it will be recruiting from overseas.

“With sickness absence, my expectation is that that will come down from April this year. Every sickness absence is being traced and monitored now, and there are improvement plans in place.”

The report highlights that overspend in nursing staffing is “almost exclusively” down to the use of agency midwives.

The appointment of 15 whole time equivalent midwives, on fixed-term 12 month contracts, was approved in November.

Nine are in place and five more chosen, who should be in post by the end of April.

But, the report says, increased absences at FGH have led to agency staff having to be retained.

Seven UHMBT employees are said to be on sick leave due to ongoing investigations in maternity.

Mandy Telford, who is leading the Thousand Voices Campaign, launched to protect Furness General Hospital’s maternity services, said: “This startlingly high wage bill for agency staff shows the importance of putting the maternity unit and other key areas on a sound footing.

“We will attract more permanent staff at lower cost if managers and the government give the long term commitment we need to keeping first class services here.”

Have your say

Let's look at the whole picture here. Anyone reviewing FGH as a place to work wouldn't come here would they? I'm not surprised thety have recritment problems!This £9m would have easily built a day-care extension on the Oncology Unit, without removing the in-patient beds to a 'dedicated area' in the hospital, thereby exposing immunocompromised patients to the risk of infection.Plus, hundreds of other thing that FGH needs. Will they get it? No, because Lancaster is God. Make FGH a second rate hospital at all costs is this Trust's philosophy. Do not trust this Trust!

Posted by Jan on 11 April 2013 at 09:43

I'm sorry if I have made you angry 'Angry' I'm just calling it as I see it, there is no venom or malice meant. My working background was construction were you either did your job or you were finished, if the management weren't up to the job they were shipped out too. It had to be that way or nothing would ever get built - there was no such thing as 'stress' then you stood your ground had your say and took the consequences. You seem motivated and eloquent enough, so maybe you and your fellow stress sufferers should get together and propose a solution instead of lying round the house all day on the sick.

Posted by Old John on 9 April 2013 at 08:38

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