Short staffed public holidays provide opportunities for locum work
A Sky News investigation has revealed that NHS hospitals are so short staffed on bank holidays, they are prepared to pay almost £150 per hour for a nurse to cover a 12 hour shift.
The interesting statistics showed that on the May Day bank holiday this year one locum agency supplied a bank nurse for a payment of £1,800 for a day’s work. A different hospital also paid £2,500 for a doctor to work that day. This information, gained through a Freedom of Information request, demonstrates the vital role that locum staff play in keeping the NHS ticking over during busy public holiday periods. It was even reported that half of the doctors who worked on 5th May in one hospital were locum medical professionals, with another having one third of their nursing staff supplied by a locum agency.
Chances to work
Figures published in April show that the NHS has previously spent £2 billion on agency staff since 2010/11, although management are currently looking to cut costs in this area.
The Sky News investigation reported on 80 of 150 NHS trusts, focusing on the May Day bank holiday held on 5th May this year. The Heart of England NHS Trust in the West Midlands recorded having temporary locum doctors covering half of their workforce, whilst University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay stumped up £2,500 for a locum doctor to work a single shift. Nurses were also found to be in demand as University Hospitals Bristol paid a nurse £1,800 for a 12 hour shift, and Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust were found to have paid £1,798 for a middle grade nurse specialising in mental health.
A Department of Health spokesperson said “We now have 6,700 more doctors and 6,200 more nurses directly employed by NHS organisations than in 2010. The figures are not a full picture of staffing in the NHS, but we encourage all trusts to maintain a tight grip on their staff costs and we will hold poor performers to account.”
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