Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust spent over £14million on private agency doctors to plug workforce gaps in 2022 - The Droitwich Standard

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust spent over £14million on private agency doctors to plug workforce gaps in 2022

Droitwich Editorial 15th Jan, 2023   0

HEALTH chiefs at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust spent more than £14million on doctors from private agencies to plug gaps in its workforce last year.

The £14,053,000 sum was revealed in a Freedom of Information request by the Labour Party which claims the figures reveals the ‘cost of understaffing’ in the county’s hospitals.

Agency staff are brought in to cover when there are not enough staff on shift, at a far higher cost than those who work full-time for the NHS.

Worcestershire Acute Hospital NHS Trust spent as much as £4,464 on a single doctor’s shift last year, meaning cash which could have been spent elsewhere instead went towards agency fees.

In total the NHS has spent £4.6billion on agency doctors in the last five years. This year it paid £3billion to agencies which provide doctors and nurses at short notice, a 20 per cent increase compared with last year.

Trusts spent a further £6billion on bank staff when NHS staff are paid to do temporary shifts, taking the total spent on additional staff to around £9.2billion.

The NHS currently has 9,000 vacancies for doctors, with a record 133,000 vacancies in total.

In response, Dr Christine Blanshard, chief medical officer at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Like many NHS organisations, to put patients first and keep our services running safely and effectively, we sometimes have to use temporary staff to provide cover for sickness absence, including due to Covid-19, or vacant posts.”

She added this was particularly the case when there may be a national shortage of staff as well as providing additional staffing to manage urgent and emergency care demand or to deal with waiting list backlogs.

“This includes consultants or other senior medical staff who, over a 24-hour period, deliver care for patients in our wards and departments as well as providing on-call cover if required.

“Using bank or agency staff does attract a premium cost, particularly where cover is required at short notice.

“We continue to actively recruit medical and nursing staff to reduce our reliance on bank and agency staff.”

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