Two items in the news today (Sunday Times – Sarah Kate-Templeton 15th October 2016) reveal the long term results of rationing midwives and doctors in training. When you control the supply side completely, and have many years notice to plan, this is irresponsible government. It represents a collusion of denial. Market forces are giving the government a problem, but they control the market..
NHS hospitals have had to pay up to £155 an hour for doctors despite a cap introduced last year on the amount trusts could spend on agency locums.
One hospital in the north of England paid more than £10,000 a week for three locum agency doctors. Two locum agency doctors between them racked up more than 4,400 hours over a year, which equates to them each working more than eight hours every weekday.
This weekend NHS Improvement, the hospitals regulator, warned that while the government cap had succeeded in reducing the amount the NHS spent on agency nurses, trusts were still overriding the limits, sometimes paying double the permitted agency rates…..
Last year the NHS spent more than £72m on agency, overtime and bank midwives, according to a report by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM). The RCM says that, for the same cost, 3,318 full-time midwives could have been employed.
The report found that, in December 2015, NHS hospitals spent an average of £50.58 an hour on agency midwives….
Hundreds of mothers booked into their local maternity units have had to give birth in towns more than 30 miles away because the hospital closest to them had temporarily closed.
The maternity units were either full or too short-staffed to admit the women. During one closure of maternity units at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, which lasted for 3½ days, 22 women due to give birth in the city had to have their babies in a range of towns including Norwich, Ipswich, Bedford and Harlow, Essex.
In Chester, women due to give birth had to travel to hospitals up to 32 miles away in north Wales.
The Royal College of Midwives will highlight the problem at its annual conference this week.
Jon Skewes, a director of the royal college, said: “Senior midwives are telling us that they are having to close units because of staffing shortages and the increasing demands on the services that often simply do not have the resource to cope.”….