Hospital trust spent £2.3m on A&E locums

UNDER REVIEW An independent panel is due to report back on plans for Dewsbury and District Hospital services.
UNDER REVIEW An independent panel is due to report back on plans for Dewsbury and District Hospital services.

The trust which runs Dewsbury and District Hospital has come under fire for its spending on locums.

A Freedom of Information request by the Labour Party revealed the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust spent more than £2.36m on locums to staff its A&E departments in 2012/13.

The figure has increased by almost 50 per cent since 2010/11 when the trust spent £1.58m.

Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Dewsbury and Mirfield, Paula Sherriff, blamed the government’s reorganisation of the NHS.

“Ministers tore up the workforce planning bodies across the country, letting an A&E staffing crisis spiral out of control with hospitals picking up the tab,” she said.

“Short-staffed A&Es are leaving patients waiting hours to be seen. They must not pay the price for the arrogance of ministers.”

Mid Yorkshire spent £1.16m more on A&E locums than the average for NHS trusts in Yorkshire last year.

But the trust said its emergency departments were among the busiest in the country.

Director of people and development Graham Briggs said: “We were the fifth busiest during the week ending January 5 according to the latest NHS England figures. This is why we need to invest in the right staff to maintain safe and effective care for all our patients.”

He said the trust tried to keep use of agency staff to a minimum, but it reflected national difficulties in permanently recruiting staff to specialist and medical nursing posts.

The trust is now recruiting consultants into specialist posts to try to reduce it use of locum cover. It also wants to reorganise A&E services as part of its Meeting the Challenge plans, which are being reviewed by the Secretary of State for Health.

If approved, Pinderfields Hospitals in Wakefield would become the main centre for emergency care.

Dewsbury’s A&E department would still have consultant-led A&E care for patients who walk in and some patients brought in by ambulance, but would not treat the most seriously ill.

It believes the changes will make it ease staffing shortages at consultant level, and improve care for patients.

But the plans have been met with opposition from the public.

Save Dewsbury Hospital campaigner Coun Karen Rowling (Lab, Dews West) questioned the idea of reducing A&E capability at Dewsbury when the trust’s services were so busy.

She said: “Dewsbury is operating beyond capacity, yet the government is forcing the trust and the Clinical Commissioning Group into costly mismanagement and drastic reductions to services. Is there seriously anybody left that believes these plans will benefit local people?”