Leeds and Wakefield’s hospitals spending £50m on agency staff

Picture by Peter Byrne/ PA Wire.
Picture by Peter Byrne/ PA Wire.
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HOSPITALS in Leeds and Wakefield spent more than £50m on agency doctors in 2014/15 - up more than a third in a year.

Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs hospitals in Wakefield, Pontefract and Dewsbury, spent £26.5m in 2014/15. Despite spending £21m on agency staffing the year before, it budgeted for just £7m, leading to call by one local MP for the Trust to “urgently get a grip” on staffing.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals spent almost £24m last year - more than £8m more than in 2013/14 the previous year.

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Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff, said the increase in was alarming, and must be addressed due to the patient safety risks with using agency staff.

“The Trust needs to get a grip on this urgently,” she said.

Gary Boothby, deputy director of finance at Mid Yorkshire said it used agencies to ensure it had the correct staff levels to provide good patient care amid a “competitive” labour market.

Dean Royles, director of HR for the Leeds Trust said it would not compromise on patient safety, and that the rise in agency costs reflected its commitment to fully staff wards.

Since April 2014, the Trust has invested £13.5m in nursing staff, and recruited more than 350 new nurses into permanent roles. It expects use of agency staff to reduce “significantly” over the coming months.

In June health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced a clampdown on the use of agency staff, which last year cost the NHS £3.3bn. A Department of Health spokesperson said: “Expensive staffing agencies are quite simply ripping off the NHS.”

In the last two years, there has been a 29 per cent increase in the rate of nurses leaving the NHS.

One former NHS nurse, told the YEP she felt compelled to leave as the stresses of the job were making her ill.

She now works at a private hospital.

She said: “A lot of us felt undervalued. We had no or minimal access to developmental training, and the agency staff would get paid more for a shift with an easier workload.”

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