Chris Smyth in The Times 3rd Feb 2015 reports: Doctors quit NHS to work as £1,800-a-day locums This is the result of long term undercapacity in highly trained individuals. Competition through overcapacity would be helpful… But the state of public finances seems to be working against more investment in Medical Student places. Preferably with adverse selection and mainly graduate entry….. (Medical Student debt – time for government to change policy on doctor recruitment)
Spending on stand-in NHS staff jumped by a quarter last year, according to a committee of MPs which says some doctors are leaving permanent jobs because they can earn £1,760 a day as locums.
Ministers must make sure hospitals stick to national pay rates and consider banning consultants trained at the taxpayer’s expense from working as “professional temporary staff” to earn more, the public accounts committee urges.
Margaret Hodge, its chairwoman, said she was more worried about the financial health of the NHS than any other part of government, warning that it could not make the necessary savings by carrying on with current methods, such as pay freezes.
More money and radical changes to treat more patients out of hospital will be needed to balance the books, the committee says.
Eighty per cent of hospitals are in the red, despite more than £1 billion of bailouts from the Department of Health, and the situation is worsening as a disjointed NHS payment system fails to encourage joined-up care, the MPs say in a report published today.
Despite hospitals’ squeezed budgets, money is being wasted on agency staff, with the bill rising by £500 million to £2.6 billion in 2013-14, the committee says. That figure is likely to be even higher this year after hospitals spent record amounts on stand-ins during the summer.
“It costs the taxpayer £400,000 to train an emergency consultant, but there are claims that some consultants are choosing to leave the NHS to work on an agency basis at a substantial cost to the NHS, with typical charges of £1,760 per day,” Mrs Hodge said, describing it as “shocking”.
A&E units are the worst hit, and at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust half of emergency consultant jobs are empty, forcing it to spend £1.5 million a month on stand-ins.
“The department should make better use of the NHS’s position as the dominant employer of temporary medical staff and require NHS bodies to use agency staff within a national framework contract,” Mrs Hodge said. She added that “radical change is required to make the NHS financially sustainable”.
Last week, hospitals rebelled over the latest round of efficiency savings, mounting a legal challenge that could blow a £1 billion hole in the NHS budget.
Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents hospitals, said that the report was the latest to show the health service could not go on as it was.
“Either we fit the money to the care provided or we fit the care to meet the money available,” he added.