Thursday, 14 July 2011
THOUSANDS of NHS jobs could be axed in the North after the region’s cash-strapped hospitals shelled out more than £31m to fill staff shortages during the recession.
A Sunday Sun probe can today reveal a total of £31.7m was paid to agency staff to ensure there was sufficient cover at six of the region’s hospital trusts.
Health chiefs paid out the “astronomical amounts” for medical consultants, doctors, nurses, healthcare assistants and admin staff.
However, these figures do not include the amount paid by the North’s biggest trust, Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, who refused to reveal their agency costs – despite being legally obliged to tell us under a Freedom of Information request made at the start of December.
The revelation comes just days after the Government announced an NHS shake-up which could lead to nearly 25,000 jobs axed in the UK as the coalition attempts to claw back some of the health sector’s huge debt.
All North trusts have come under fire from the region’s leading union chief, who slammed the trusts for being “irresponsible” with public money.
Trevor Johnson, Unison’s lead officer for health in the North East, said: “There is a direct link between the amount of money paid to agency staff and the amount of permanent jobs which will go.
“It costs approximately twice as much to employ an agency worker as it does to employ a contracted worker, so I don’t know why these trusts persist on doing it.
“The trusts have know about this problem for years but have failed to do anything with this knowledge. They are well aware how much it is costing them but they may feel it is too complex to deal with it.”
Of the six trusts who responded, North Cumbria paid most to temporary staff – a whopping £9.4m – including more than £4.5m for consultants.