A government cap on the amount the NHS can spend on agency staff has been welcomed by the trust which runs Lincolnshire’s hospitals.
By April 2016, NHS trusts will not be able to pay agency staff, such as doctors and nurses, more than 55% more for a shift than a permanent member of staff.
The move has been introduced by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who said he wanted to stop agencies being able to “rip off the NHS”, costing billions of pounds a year and undermining hard-working staff.
United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust recorded a deficit of £21.679 million for the period April 1 to July 31, 2015, a position which is £7.825 million worse than the planned figures at this point in the year.
Of this, a total of £5,369,245 was paid out to agency doctors alone – with Lincoln County Hospital accounting for the majority of the spend.
Ian Warren, Director of Human Resources at United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust, said: “We’re committed to delivering safe, high quality, affordable services and the agency cap should assist us in the efforts we are making to reduce our agency spend.
“This year we’ve already done extensive work towards decreasing agency spend, with plans that focus on local, regional and national recruitment.
“This includes attendance at open days, continuous advertising within the UK and active engagement with international recruitment initiatives to help recruit to our hard-to-fill posts.
“In addition, we are working with areas where there is a high agency spend due to national shortages of certain staff groups to see how they can work differently to reduce spend.”
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “The tough new controls on spending that we’re putting in place will help the NHS improve continuity of care for patients and invest in the front line – while putting an end to the days of unscrupulous companies charging up to £3,500 a shift for a doctor.”
Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, added: “Introducing the cap on the amount trusts pay agencies for staff is the right thing to do. I welcome the fact that this is being phased in, allowing staff and trusts time to adjust and minimising any risks to patient safety.
“Close monitoring will allow us to assess the impact on individual trusts.”