Leeds hospitals facing huge costs of temporary staff

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Hospitals in Leeds are facing soaring costs for temporary doctors and nurses as managers battle to plug shortages of key staff.

New figures show costs of temporary nurses are up 87 per cent to £9.4m in Leeds’s hospitals, while locum doctors have so far cost £5.7m - up 10 per cent. One 24-hour shift for a trauma specialist cost £2,600 - a rate of £108 an hour.

Across Yorkshire’s hospitals, costs of bank and agency nurses and locum doctors are already up nearly 25 per cent since April compared to the same period in 2013. Demands for better hospital safety have led to a massive rise in costs, but that rise is putting further pressure on already stretched budgets.

At the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs services in Wakefield, Dewsbury and Pontefract, bank and agency nursing costs are up 64 per cent to £4.6m, although locum doctor costs have fallen by five per cent to £6.7m. Managers, who have already employed 50 Spanish nurses to cut temporary staff costs, plan to recruit more in India in February.

But Glenn Turp, regional director for the Royal College of Nursing, said using agency staff or recruiting abroad was “costly and completely unsustainable”.

“The failure by the coalition Government to invest in training UK nurses, with drastic cuts to student places in the past, has simply made the situation even worse,” he said. “Only long-term investment in nurses and nursing will ensure that the NHS keeps up with demand without patient care suffering.”

Hospital chiefs in Leeds said the bulk temporary nurse spending came in the six months to October prior to the arrival of 400 new nurses as part of a major recruitment drive worth £13.5m over 30 months to “improve patient safety and the quality of our patient experience”.

A spokesman said as a regional centre, it needed highly specialised cover. “At times this expertise can be in extremely short supply and the rate in this case reflects that fact,” he said.