Agency staff cost NHS trust more than £8 million

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HOSPITAL bosses spent more than £8 million on expensive agency staff over the last year.

The cash went towards employing doctors, staff to work in laboratories, nurses, therapists and other posts.

Managers at East Sussex Healthcare Trust, which runs Eastbourne DGH and Conquest Hospital in Hastings, are already grappling with a potential £6 million debt as funding negotiations continue.

Trust chief executive Darren Grayson has warned the Trust’s employment of agency staff is unsustainable.

More than £1 million alone from total agency costs went towards paying nursing staff from agencies because the Trust is struggling to fill nursing posts.

There are currently 98 nursing vacancies which need filling.

There is a national shortage of nurses in specialist areas like orthopaedics and elderly care.

A Trust spokesman said it is taking on 30 newly qualified nurses next month.

He said, “The difficulty in recruiting nurses is being experienced across the whole country.

“Over the last two years we have invested in nursing staffing levels and we have established a recruitment plan to increase the number of staff on all wards which will help reduce agency nurse costs.

“The plan includes establishing an ongoing recruitment process where five applicants per week are shortlisted and interviewed, setting up a special campaign to recruit nurses from Scotland and other countries such as Ireland and Portugal.”

The spokesman added that the Trust also intends to target priority areas such as orthopaedics, elderly care and theatres, which need more staff.