freephone 0800 862 0373
Sign in to view your quotes
Email address:
Password or PIN:

Forgotten your password? Reset it here.

NHS spends over a billion a year recruiting agency doctors to cover staff shortages

Published on 19/03/2012

An investigation by a leading newspaper has revealed that NHS trusts are paying over £1 billion a year on agency doctors to cover staff shortages caused by the European Working Time Directive.

The European Working Time Directive limits the number of hours medics can work to a maximum of 48 hours a week. Individual doctors are allowed to opt out of it, but still cannot exceed a limit of 56 hours.

Consequently, NHS Hospitals have had to take on more doctors or use staff from agencies, which recruit from elsewhere in the UK and abroad. The amounts being paid in some cases would be the equivalent of a doctor earning an annual salary of almost £1m.

In total, 83 hospital trusts out of 164 responded to Freedom of Information Requests by the Telegraph about the sum they spent on temporary doctors, nurses and other clinical staff.

The calculated NHS wide figure shows £1.03bn was spent in 2010-11 and £1.05bn the year before on recruiting temporary staff. In total, this could have paid the wages of 48,000 nurses or 33,000 junior doctors in the same time period.

80 per cent of responding hospital trusts admitted to spending more than £1,000 per shift on medical cover.

Heart of England Foundation Trust had the highest total bill for temporary staff in 2010-11, spending more than £24 million.

The investigation also revealed that North Cumbria University Trust spent £20,000 hiring a surgeon for one week, and £14,000 on a gynaecologist working for 4 days.

Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust paid £5,667 for a doctor to cover one 24 hour shift in Accident and Emergency. Christie Foundation Trust in Manchester spent more than £11,000 on 6 days cover for a haematology consultant.

Whilst most of the money included fees paid to agencies, some agencies which hire locum doctors have recently advertised NHS work which pays up to £100 an hour, including time on call.

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said it was “outrageous” that hospitals were spending so much money on agency staff, while patients struggled to access many treatments, such as hip replacements.

She said the use of temporary staff increased risks to patients, because they were not familiar with the hospitals in which they worked.

One of the benefits of having private medical insurance is being able to choose a top consultant or specialist to treat you for the entirety of your condition, who knows your medical history. Compare health insurance quotes online now to get first class healthcare at an affordable price.

© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2012

Categories:  NHS and Hospitals
NHS spends over a billion a year recruiting agency doctors to cover staff shortagesAn investigation by a leading newspaper has revealed that NHS trusts are paying over £1 billion a year on agency doctors to cover staff shor    tweet it on twittershare with your friends on Facebookshare with your friends on MySpaceBlog it on your LinkedIn profile

No.1 health insurance broker as rated by customers

Proactive, efficient, and offered me insurance I need. I would say half price I would end up paying if I did it by myself. Many thanks.

Review centre member

Excellent service. Explained everything in detail and really helped to find the right insurance best suited to my needs - which wasn't necessarily the most expensive. 

Review centre member

Good value and the advisor was very helpful and recommended the best policy for my grandson. I would definitely use this service again and recommend to others.

Review centre member

We were contacted in good time to make a knowledgable choice. We were given plenty of options with lots of information to enable us to make the right choice.

Review centre member

The service I received was excellent, the staff member was very efficient and knowledgable. She went out of her way to get the best policy for me.

Review centre member

Great service. I really appreciated the help provided by Active Quote to arrange health insurance. The agent was very informative and proactive. Many thanks!

Review centre member

I received excellent care and attention from the first phone call till the last. Friendly, efficient and patient.

Review centre member

Staff are very helpful, friendly and polite. They call back when they say they will and keep you up to date with progress. Pleasure to deal with.

Review centre member

Very polite and friendly, and gave detailed explanations of all aspects of the cover. Reassuring to know that if you do have a problem there is someone you can contact.

Review centre member

Friendly and efficient. Nothing was too much trouble even when i needed to make a small change, excellent service.

Review centre member
This site is operated by Insurance Broker ActiveQuote Ltd registered in England & Wales company number 6765845.
Authorised and Regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Firm reference number 501109 as detailed on the Financial Services Register. Please read our Key Facts document.
For information about your rights as a consumer visit Citizens Advice.

Our insurance comparison service is free and easy for you to use, but you are responsible for making sure all your information is entered correctly, and for choosing your insurer.

This site uses cookies in order to work correctly - these are not harmful and do not contain personal information. By using this site you consent to this. I understand  Tell me more

please wait ...