Following some headline-making revelations about cost, the subject of funding temporary healthcare staff is back under the spotlight. According to a Sky News Investigation, some hospital trusts are paying eye-watering amounts for locum medical staff.

One trust in Lincolnshire is reported to have spent £3,258 on one doctor to cover a single 24-hour Christmas shift in an A&E department. The report found that four hospitals paid more than £2,000 for A&E consultants to work a shift with Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust paying the equivalent of £230 an hour for one doctor.

Three hospitals paid more £1,700 for nurse shifts, the Freedom of Information request discovered.
The high amounts of taxpayers’ money being paid out to temporary medics are being blamed on a shortage of available staff, with some locum agencies being accused of raising their prices during busy periods such as Christmas.

The president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Dr Clifford Mann, said: “Market forces really are quite extreme currently, with the lack of permanent people to employ. It means hospitals are desperate to fill these slots and are having to pay super premium rates for that to happen”. And he added that full-time medical staff can often feel demoralised if they are working alongside someone who is less experienced than them but commanding much more in terms of pounds paid per hour.

There are ways that hirers in the healthcare sector can keep their temporary labour costs this side of reasonable.

Planning for predictably busy periods instead of reacting too late is essential. Monitoring the usage of temporary staff is important too, to fully understand who you need where and when.

Procurers must ensure the best and most appropriate agencies are being used to supply temporary staff.

Look at how your administration can be improved. The health sector, both national and private, continues to rely heavily on paper-based invoices and timesheets and this can be costly in terms of manpower and mistakes when you are dealing with high numbers of temporary workers.

Using a vendor neutral labour provider such as GRI can help with cutting the costs of your temporary workforce requirements. We work with the NHS and private health and care providers to cut costs, ensure compliance and streamline administration, negotiating fixed pay rates across all job categories to ensure a continuous supply of high-quality, non-permanent staff.

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