King’s Lynn hospital spends £855,000 in one month on agency staff

QEH Accident and Emergency Dept and Vehicles outside the entrance on Sunday 4th Jan 2015 ANL-150501-075111009
QEH Accident and Emergency Dept and Vehicles outside the entrance on Sunday 4th Jan 2015 ANL-150501-075111009
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Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital has spent £855,000 in one month on agency doctors and nurses to man its wards.

Leaders at the Gayton Road hospital say the expense was incurred to ensure patient safety comes first and expect to be fully staffed with nurses next year.

Earlier this week new rules were introduced by health minister Jeremy Hunt to stop agencies “ripping off the NHS”. This has been denied by staffing agencies.

The hospital trust was placed into special measures in November 2013 after major concerns were raised in four areas, including staffing not being at the required level.

During April, the QEH spent £855,000 on agency clinical staff.

The hospital says its year on year spend on agency staff was increasing but is now expecting this to go down due to its recruitment programme.

HR director Gerry Dryden said: “We do not want to incur this expenditure but safety comes first. Our priority is to deliver safe care to our patients and maintaining adequate staffing levels is crucial to this. We are working very hard on recruitment and retention of staff.

“As the health minister has recognised, recruitment and retention of medical and nursing staff is an issue faced by trusts across the country and we have been working hard to drive down our agency spend.

“Our comprehensive nurse recruitment programme should mean that we have a full complement of in-house nursing staff in 2016.

“We are also working with our partners to recruit clinicians to joint posts with other trusts in areas where it has traditionally been difficult to get full-time doctors.”

The hospital now has a nursing recruitment strategy in place.

A total of 258 nurses have been recruited from Spain, Portugal and the Phillipines since 2014.

The hospital plans also include events to find student and registered nurses from the local area, along with regular rolling adverts.

A finder’s fee will also be paid to staff from April 1 who refer staff for a registered nursing position.

The hospital is also looking at its accommodation for overseas nurses.

A nursing apprenticeship framework is also being introduce for new and existing staff.

Plus the hospital is looking to start up a nursing development programme for staff.

Return to work programmes are also included within the strategy to encourage nurses back onto the wards.