NHS staff paid over £3,000 per shift amid staff shortages
An investigation by The Telegraph into the use of agency staff to fill shortages in emergency rooms across Britain was reported yesterday to have found that instances of pay per shift being above £1,000 had increased, while total costs for agency workers had reached £250 million in 2013; the third rise in two years.
The use of locum doctors paid in excess of £1,000 to fill gaps in A&E departments up and down the country occurred on at least 2,300 separate occasions in 2013, with consultants being paid rates over £3,000 and nurses up to £1,600 per shift.
According to The Telegraph’s figures, the highest rate was £3,717 paid to a doctor to work a 30 hour shift, by Wye Valley NHS Trust in Herefordshire. The Trust did not comment how much of the 30 hours were spent in the hospital and how many spent on call, though they did state their staffing difficulties were amplified by its rural location.
The £250 million paid out by the NHS to agencies includes the agency cut, which is usually around 15 percent. £250 million could pay for the annual wages of 3,000 consultants or over 7,000 junior doctors, said The Telegraph. Despite similar claims having been made before, senior management had previously stated that agency doctors were only brought in for emergency situations when there was no alternative.
Dr Cliff Mann, president of the College of Emergency Medicine and the most senior A&E doctor in the UK, told The Telegraph: “The use of agency doctors has become endemic in the NHS. There are units which would implode if they weren’t relying on them, day in, day out. The figures are shocking and ludicrous. The worst of it is that with the money we are wasting on temporary staff we could double the number of A&E consultants if only a more long-term approach was taken. It doesn’t make economic sense, nor does it make clinical sense — because this is not good for patients.”