King George Hospital trust spends £4m on temporary staff in a year to keep A&E running

King George Hospital

King George Hospital - Credit: Archant

Almost £4million was spent on temporary staff to keep A&Es at King George Hospital and Queen’s running in just a year.

A freedom of information request by the Labour Party revealed that Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT) forked out £3.8m in 2012/13.

It was far above average for London trusts, where the average was just £1.3m.

Cllr Wes Streeting, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Ilford North, said the figures showed “the true cost of the government’s mismanagement”.

He added: “We are, in effect, paying over the odds for a poor service.”

Mike Gapes, MP for Ilford South, said he raised the staffing issues in a House of Commons debate.

He added: “You don’t get the committed, dedicated staff in the way that you do with full-time employees.

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“And it’s more expensive than the real solution – for BHRUT to get its act together and hire more permanent staff.”

The trust is already struggling with debts of more than £100m and locum staff cost far more than those directly employed, especially for senior A&E consultants, who demand a premium.

The staggering figure could be even higher this financial year because of the worsening situation with the chronic shortage of permanent staff.

Ilford North MP Lee Scott said he was more concerned about the quality of care than the cost.

He added: “People need to understand the hospital, know other staff and work as a team.

“I fully understand the problems with recruitment but it must be addressed immediately.”

Permanent staff shortages were a major factor in the decision to put the trust into special measures following a damning CQC report last month.

King George Hospital’s A&E is still set to shut in late 2015 despite the findings and years of campaigning.

Inspectors found that doctors and nurses were avoiding the trust because of its “reputation”.

Last year, BHRUT resorted to recruiting abroad in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, India and the UAE to staff A&E.

The trust’s medical director, Stephen Burgess, said the huge spend on locums was necessary to keep staffing at safe levels.

He added: “We are working tirelessly to recruit and retain high quality permanent staff in our emergency departments.

“Using locum staff costs considerably more, and we also know that having permanent staff in place leads to better continuity of care and therefore an improved patient experience.”