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Friday, 31 October 2014

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Staffing crisis causing £8.6m NHS overspend

THE struggle to recruit doctors and nurses has led to wage bills in the area’s hospitals spiralling to £8.6m over budget.

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DAVID WILKINSON

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Furness General Hospital, spent £9.9m on temporary medical agency staff in the 12 months up until February 28 – despite budgeting £4.3m.

Nursing agency staff cost the trust £5.3m against a planned budget of £1.6m.

The report showed the trust also spent £1.3m on agency senior managers.

A report to UHMBT board of governors showed £4.4m had been spent on temporary doctors in the trust’s Elective Medicine Division, which had the highest agency wage bill.

The report said £6m of the total bill was due to job vacancies, but £465,000 had been spent on covering sick days and almost £1m had been spent on “gaps in rota.”

David Wilkinson, director of workforce and organisational development at UHMBT, said: “Agency staff play an important role in allowing us to continue to offer safe and effective care when there may be gaps in rotas. However, we know that the best consistency in care comes from permanent staff who know our hospitals and patients.

“The trust has been working extremely hard over the last 12 months not only to fill long standing vacancies but also invest in more clinical staff.

“Examples of this work include the recruitment of consultants and middle grade doctors at both FGH and the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, the 130 additional nurses that have started at the trust over the last year, and the recently announced campaign to recruit to over 20 new full time registered children’s nurse and support worker posts in our Women and Children’s Division.”

Walney councillor Mandy Telford, of Cumbria County Council, and campaign organiser of the Thousand Voices campaign, said: “It is a very large amount of money to be spending on agency staff.

“We have called on the hospital leadership to get some stability in the staffing situation.”

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