£13.1m bill for temps causes union outrage

Doncaster Royal Infirmary.  (Picture: CHRIS BULL HospitalD3707CB)
Doncaster Royal Infirmary. (Picture: CHRIS BULL HospitalD3707CB)

health bosses at Doncaster’s hospitals have increased spending on agency staff by more than £1 million.

Trade union Unison has now hit out at the increase which saw the age bill for casual workers rise from £11.8 million in 2009-10 to £13.1 million for the last financial year.

The move comes as some staff have lost their jobs and other face a major shake-up as hospital bosses attempt to claw back a £16 million funding deficit.

The figures have been published by the Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals’ NHS Foundation Trust which runs sites including Doncaster Royal Infirmary and Mexborough Montagu.

It has defended the agency spending levels, which it says was mostly on medical staff.

However, Rianne Johnson of Unison, said: “The cost of agency staff is now costing taxpayers a staggering £13.1 million at the same time as our members in the nurseries have been made redundant.

“At the same time cleaners, porters and laundry staff - the lowest paid in the NHS - are facing restructure, threats to job security, and the prospect of outsourcing.”

She said paying staff through agencies cost more than paying staff on the trust’s own payroll and the increase could have funded an extra 12 nurses.

Unions also want information about the amount which was paid to employ the trust’s acting chief executive, Dr Peter Reading, through an agency.

The trust says details of all directors’ pay would be published in the annual report and accounts later this summer.

A trust spokesman said most of the £13.1 million was on locums who were “essential” to providing services.

She added: “Without them, we would have to close services. We have had an increase in agency costs in line with our increased activity.”

The spokesman highlighted DRI’s A&E department which saw a 5.5 per cent increase in patients in the last year compared with 2009-10.

She added since the beginning of April the trust has appointed three consultants, interviewed for four A&E posts and there were interviews for a further ten consultants and speciality doctors lined up.

The spokesman said bosses were “confident” further appointments would cut agency staff bills.