Anger at Bay trust's £2,493 bill for one doctor's shift

Anger at Bay trust's £2,493 bill for one doctor's shift

Anger at Bay trust's £2,493 bill for one doctor's shift

First published in News
Last updated
The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

THE Morecambe Bay hospital trust paid almost £2,500 for an agency doctor to cover a bank holiday shift, it has been revealed.

The University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust (UHMBT), which last year admitted it needed to save £30m or face going bust, spent £2,493.60 on a single 24-hour cover on May 5, according to Freedom of Information figures.

“These are eye-watering sums to be paying for locum cover,” blasted Furness MP, John Woodcock. “Especially when finances at the Morecambe Bay trust are so tight.”

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Earlier this year the Gazette reported how the use of agency staff had seen the trust overspend by £8.6m on staffing.

According to Aaron Cummins, finance director for UHMBT, it had to call in agency locums which cost it £5.1m more than planned in the year up to the end of February.

It also overspent by £2.1m on nursing and midwifery staff and £1.4m on ‘other’ staff.

In June, the trust was placed in special measures following a Care Quality Commission inspection of its three sites at Kendal, Lancaster and Barrow.

One of the CQC’s criticisms of the trust was short-staffing.

“This demonstrates clearly how important it is that issues of short-staffing and staff retention at the trust, as highlighted by the Care Quality Commission, are dealt with as soon as possible,” continued Mr Woodcock.

“Not only do staff shortages threaten patient safety, they also end up costing the trust heavily.

“With the trust now in special measures, it is important that we do not see further slashing of numbers of doctors and nurses in a short-sighted, cost-saving measure.”

This week David Wilkinson, director of workforce and organisational development for the trust, said the safety of patients was ‘paramount’ and the trust used agency staff to ‘meet the needs of patients’.

“Where we have to employ agency staff to cover gaps in our rotas we will do so, albeit only after exploring all other routes,” he said.

“However, we know that as a trust our spending on agency staffing is too high and we have been reliant on agency staff, but our plans are to continually reduce this through investing in our own front-line people.

“Compared to April 2013 we now have 221 more front-line clinical staff in post and we will continue our strategy to attract high calibre individuals to work in the trust to ensure that our patients receive the high quality care they deserve.”

Comments (4)

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10:47am Wed 6 Aug 14

gnarlybuttons says...

Every time there is a "bad news" story about UHMBT staff morale sinks a bit lower, and it gets that much harder to recruit high quality doctors and nurses. Can we have some good news about it for a change?
Every time there is a "bad news" story about UHMBT staff morale sinks a bit lower, and it gets that much harder to recruit high quality doctors and nurses. Can we have some good news about it for a change? gnarlybuttons
  • Score: 6

9:44pm Wed 6 Aug 14

Scots Guardsman says...

Morecambe Bay has enough people to justify a single hospital - instead it has 2 & 1/4. The Government wants cuts, it won't take account of the rurality issue, but if anyone suggests tailoring services to what can be afforded and run properly the politicians & media all scream blue murder demanding everything stays open regardless of whether it's safe or can be afforded.

Without staff you can't have a service and if nobody wants to work there, you either have to shut the service or hire locums and pay the market rate.

I'm pretty sure nobody in the Trust was walking around trying to find the most expensive doctor in the phone book (and anyway it's the agency that gets the money - not the doctor) - perhaps next time they'll just shut the doors and send everyone to Lancaster or Carlisle and save the taxpayer's money - see if the local MPs like that any better?
Morecambe Bay has enough people to justify a single hospital - instead it has 2 & 1/4. The Government wants cuts, it won't take account of the rurality issue, but if anyone suggests tailoring services to what can be afforded and run properly the politicians & media all scream blue murder demanding everything stays open regardless of whether it's safe or can be afforded. Without staff you can't have a service and if nobody wants to work there, you either have to shut the service or hire locums and pay the market rate. I'm pretty sure nobody in the Trust was walking around trying to find the most expensive doctor in the phone book (and anyway it's the agency that gets the money - not the doctor) - perhaps next time they'll just shut the doors and send everyone to Lancaster or Carlisle and save the taxpayer's money - see if the local MPs like that any better? Scots Guardsman
  • Score: 0

5:01pm Thu 7 Aug 14

Keeping_it_real says...

Scots Guardsman wrote:
Morecambe Bay has enough people to justify a single hospital - instead it has 2 & 1/4. The Government wants cuts, it won't take account of the rurality issue, but if anyone suggests tailoring services to what can be afforded and run properly the politicians & media all scream blue murder demanding everything stays open regardless of whether it's safe or can be afforded.

Without staff you can't have a service and if nobody wants to work there, you either have to shut the service or hire locums and pay the market rate.

I'm pretty sure nobody in the Trust was walking around trying to find the most expensive doctor in the phone book (and anyway it's the agency that gets the money - not the doctor) - perhaps next time they'll just shut the doors and send everyone to Lancaster or Carlisle and save the taxpayer's money - see if the local MPs like that any better?
It's not the Agency that gets the money. The agency will get a percent margin (and being the NHS the margin will likley be very small, in order to be approved to supply on the Governments PSL), but since the hospital pays doubletime on a bank holiday, the locum will have received the bulk of the money and a tidy sum at that. All NHS external suppliers and their rates are in line with the Government PSL - not the Local NHS body, so if you want to blame someone, blame Osbourne not the MBNHS Trust.
[quote][p][bold]Scots Guardsman[/bold] wrote: Morecambe Bay has enough people to justify a single hospital - instead it has 2 & 1/4. The Government wants cuts, it won't take account of the rurality issue, but if anyone suggests tailoring services to what can be afforded and run properly the politicians & media all scream blue murder demanding everything stays open regardless of whether it's safe or can be afforded. Without staff you can't have a service and if nobody wants to work there, you either have to shut the service or hire locums and pay the market rate. I'm pretty sure nobody in the Trust was walking around trying to find the most expensive doctor in the phone book (and anyway it's the agency that gets the money - not the doctor) - perhaps next time they'll just shut the doors and send everyone to Lancaster or Carlisle and save the taxpayer's money - see if the local MPs like that any better?[/p][/quote]It's not the Agency that gets the money. The agency will get a percent margin (and being the NHS the margin will likley be very small, in order to be approved to supply on the Governments PSL), but since the hospital pays doubletime on a bank holiday, the locum will have received the bulk of the money and a tidy sum at that. All NHS external suppliers and their rates are in line with the Government PSL - not the Local NHS body, so if you want to blame someone, blame Osbourne not the MBNHS Trust. Keeping_it_real
  • Score: 3

1:30pm Fri 8 Aug 14

WilliamT says...

You're all missing the point that the reason they had to get a locum in was that the local consultants were putting the screws on the management by refusing to cover themselves- they know that money is pouring in to UHMB like Niagara direct from DoH, just to keep the collapse of the trust out of the news, so they want some 'that'll do nicely' sessions. What they want is to be paid these super-enhanced rates themselves, so they operated a 'work to rule'.

They have DoH over a barrel with the election coming up, and knowing the desperation the authorities are showing to keep UHMB out of the news.
You're all missing the point that the reason they had to get a locum in was that the local consultants were putting the screws on the management by refusing to cover themselves- they know that money is pouring in to UHMB like Niagara direct from DoH, just to keep the collapse of the trust out of the news, so they want some 'that'll do nicely' sessions. What they want is to be paid these super-enhanced rates themselves, so they operated a 'work to rule'. They have DoH over a barrel with the election coming up, and knowing the desperation the authorities are showing to keep UHMB out of the news. WilliamT
  • Score: 3

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