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Shock figures show £9 million spend on temporary staff for hospital trust

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: July 01, 2014

Helen Ashley - chief executive, Queen's Hospital..

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ALMOST £9 million has been spent on plugging staff vacancies at Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in the last year.

The organisation which runs Queen’s Hospital spent £5,999,551 on hiring temporary staff to positions it was unable to fill, according to statistics obtained through a Freedom of Information request.

A further £2,787,013 has been spent on bank staff, who are taken from the in-house staffing pool, meaning almost £9 million has been spent on temporary staff in the last year.

The figures show the extent of the staffing crisis at the trust, which has been struggling to recruit workers for some time.

Chief executive Helen Ashley admitted recently that the crippling cost of using agency staff was ‘unsustainable’ for the organisation and something had to be done to turn the situation around.

THE amount spent on agency and bank staff has risen by almost £2 million since the last financial year, when it sat at £5,871,155.

An advisory note with the information said agency staff were used to ensure safe staffing levels on wards.

Last year’s Keogh investigation, which saw the trust placed into special measures, found there was a very high amount of agency staff being used within Queen’s and the two community hospitals run by the trust.

Members of the panel commented on the lack of cohesion this caused for teams working in departments around the organisation.

Helen Ashley, who runs the three hospitals, said work was under way to reduce the reliance on temporary staff.

She told the Mail: “Our current spend on bank and agency staff is higher than anticipated.

“However, this also reflects our commitment to patient care by ensuring any gaps in staffing are appropriately filled, which in many cases means the trust has used agency staff.

“We have a plan in place to reduce the temporary staffing costs and have been actively recruiting additional clinical and nursing staff. We have welcomed more twenty nurses from Italy this week, and plan to recruit newly qualified nurses who have trained locally in the autumn.”

Staff have recently also been taken on from Portugal in a move to fill vacancies which have remained open at the three hospitals.

Almost 300 new nurses could be recruited and paid the average UK wage with the £9 million which has been spent on temporary staff.

The amount could also fund eight more of the £1 million acute assessment units which opened at Queen’s last year in a bid to relieve pressure on accident and emergency.

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