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by Alistair Kleebauer and Sara Odeen-Isbister
Thursday, April 11, 2013
The borough’s hospital trust paid £2,297 for an A&E doctor to work a 24-hour shift last year, it has been revealed.
The “shocking” figure came to light following a Freedom of Information request by a national newspaper, which showed the huge amounts of money being spent by UK hospitals on agency staff.
In a list of the most expensive shifts in 2012, Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT) was among nine which spent more than £1,000 on shifts lasting between nine-and-a-half and 24 hours.
The trust, which manages Queen’s in Romford and King George in Barley Lane, Goodmayes, is up to £150million in debt.
Speaking of the pay-outs, Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: “This is a shockingly wasteful way to run a service. So many hospitals are paying vast sums because there is no proper planning and management, so instead we see locums being brought in on a last-minute, ad hoc basis, at huge expense and to the detriment of patient care.”
BHRUT’s medical director Dr Mike Gill defended the payments, saying: “In areas where it is particularly difficult to recruit consultants – such as in emergency care – we occasionally have to pay more than we would like to ensure that shifts are covered and patients are receiving the best possible care.”
But Cllr Andy Walker, a member of the Save King George Hospital campaign, said: “It’s alarming that best possible care is a doctor doing a 24-hour shift. Common sense says there are problems there.
“If doctors can negotiate that sort of wage, it suggests there’s a real shortage of doctors in London. We have a duty to pursue this and find out what’s going on.”