Concerns over huge hike in locum expenditure at A&Es

First published in Local

Figures released by Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, show its spending on stand-in doctors for A&E departments has increased by 300 per cent in just four years.

In 2010, the trust spent around £500,000 on locums in A&E departments. Last year, that expenditure had risen to £1.5 million - five times the national average increase of 60 per cent.

These figures have come to light, following Labour’s Freedom of Information requests to all NHS Trusts running A&E departments.

Rebecca Blake, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Redditch said: "I am fighting hard for us to keep accident and emergency services at the Alexandra Hospital, and this trebling of costs is a huge blow.

"The top down re-organisation of the NHS, put in place by this Tory led Government, is putting the A&E departments in crisis. It’s letting us down.

"It’s also letting down A&E professionals. Our A&E departments are understaffed and under pressure, making it even harder to work there. These figures show that Worcestershire NHS Trust can’t recruit permanent doctors into A&E posts.

"The Government needs to remedy the damage it has done."

Andy Burnham MP, Labour's Shadow Health Secretary, said: "The NHS is now reeling from the consequences of the Prime Minister's failure to act on warnings. He has left it with a dangerous shortage of A&E doctors and a bill for locums which is spiralling out of control.

"This Government is guilty of gross mismanagement of the NHS. They are paying more for an A&E service which is getting worse by the week. And things have got so bad that many doctors are deciding to quit."

In response, Chris Tidman, deputy chief executive and director of resources at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the Alex, said: "It has been well documented nationally that there is currently a shortfall in the number of A&E doctors, particularly given the need to provide seven day a week consultant cover.

"At a local level, we have also seen significant pressure on both A&E departments (at the Alex and Worcestershire Royal Hospital) over the last two years due to a seven per cent rise in emergency admissions, which has required additional locum and agency medical staffing to maintain quality and safety.

"Whilst short term measures such as overseas recruitment are in place to reduce the reliance on the more costly temporary staffing, the trust is also working closely with its Clinical Commissioning Groups to help take the pressure of its A&E departments by making better use of alternative services."

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