Trainee doctors are being paid more than 2,000 A DAY by the NHS in 'out of control' agency payments scandalAgency doctors have cost the public 2bn since 2010/11Figures show a trust spent 15,000 for one doctor for a weekTories blame EU rules limiting doctors' working hours
10:24 GMT, 7 April 2013
07:08 GMT, 8 April 2013
Health minister Dr Daniel Poulter says the NHS is clamping down on excessive spending on agency doctors
The NHS is paying trainee doctors more than 2,000 for a day’s work, it has emerged.
Hospitals are squandering tens of millions of pounds on agency workers to cover shifts at understaffed hospitals.
Desperate trusts are being forced to hire temporary doctors to plug holes during busy times and fill in for shortages created by illness, maternity leave and reduced working hours for junior doctors.
But, according to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act, at least one in six hospitals admitted spending more than 1,000 a day to hire individual medics since 2010.
In one instance, a stand-in consultant was paid 15,000 for a week’s cover in Cumbria – which would equate to more than 700,000 in annual pay.
Another hospital, in Essex, paid a trainee doctor 2,107 for a 12-hour shift last year, even though the basic pay for the most experienced junior is only in the region of 30,000 a year.
According to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act, more than 2billion has been spent by hospitals on locum doctors over a three-year period.
The sum could have paid the full-time wages of 32,000 first year junior doctors or up to 10,000 consultants over the same period.
The temporary staff are provided by agencies, which take a large percentage of the payments.
The annual national spend on temporary medics has risen 8 per cent since 2011, the figures also reveal.
Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:
‘These pay deals demonstrate that there are huge savings to be made in
the protected NHS budget.
Expenditure: One trust spent 15,000 on a doctor for one week. Picture posed by models
The NHS says it has reduced its reliance on agency staff over the past few years
‘Patients want their hard-earned cash spent on providing treatment and
key drugs, not on excessive pay for doctors. It’s crucial that these
costs are cut drastically.’
Other examples of profligacy include East
Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust paying 2,474 for a
non-consultant doctor to work a nine-and-a-half hour A&E shift – a
rate of more than 250 an hour.
Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals Foundation Trust spent 2,594 on a consultant haematologist to work 24 hours.
Health minister Dr Daniel Poulter said demand for agency staff had
increased since EU rules were brought in in 2009 to stop junior doctors
working more than 48 hours a week.
He said: ‘The European Working Time Directive (EWTD) has created
problems for the National Health Service on a number of issues including
increased reliance on locum doctors, reduced continuity of patient
care, and poorer training for junior doctors. Whilst we cannot return to
the excessive hours worked by junior doctors in the past, we are
committed to limiting the application of the EWTD in the NHS.
‘We are continuing to seek changes in Europe, but in England we are also
reviewing doctors’ contracts because some of the issues can be improved
by changes to ensure that junior doctors can spend more time training
with senior consultants.’
Commenting on the figures, Dr Poulter added that it was crucial for NHS trusts to reduce excess spending on temporary staff.
He said: ‘Many hospitals have reduced their reliance on locum doctors,
but there are also a number of hospitals which must reduce both the use
and the cost of locums.’
Labour health spokesman Andrew Gwynne MP said: ‘Patients will find this
impossible to understand when hard-working nurses are being given pay
freezes and P45s to cut costs.’