“Recruitment crisis” in NHS as A&E locum spending increases by 60%

14 January 2014

“Recruitment crisis” in NHS as A&E locum spending increases by 60%

Statistics have revealed that more than £83m was spent last year on locum doctors to deal with chronically understaffed A&E: a 60% rise over the last three years.

The Labour Party obtained the figures under the Freedom of Information Act, decrying the money spent as a waste of NHS funds which could have been better utilised. Information was obtained from 108 trusts, representing 75% of those that run A&E units. Whereas spending on locum or temporary doctors was £52m in 2009-10 it has escalated to £83.3m last year.

This combined with intense workloads, low pay and anti-social hours has turned many junior doctors off working in A&E. As a solution locums are brought who, according to the Daily Mail, are not only expensive to recruit but tend to be "less competent, more inexperienced and prone to mistakes as they are unfamiliar with equipment".

Mistreatment.com has received enquiries from members of the public relating to the kind of problems and situations described above. Often A&E departments can struggle with understaffing and insufficient resourcing. Patient rights can be adversely affected and those A&E which do not have the appropriate organisation and management can often compromise patient care. As a result members of the public have contacted Mistreatment.com regarding medical negligence enquiries ranging to misdiagnosis or in failing to quickly identify a serious medical problem requiring urgent care and attention.

The College of Emergency Medicine believes the spending on locums was not only grossly expensive but “very unwise”. They are now organising plans to attract more junior doctors by looking at training opportunities and working patterns which are more flexible.

Dr Cliff Mann, president of the college added: "It is not an efficient way of spending NHS money and can be damaging for morale when doctors work alongside other, sometimes less qualified doctors, who are earning much more.

"But this has really been building for the past decade. There has been a lack of job planning and it is now very hard to attract doctors to this speciality."

The rise in the amounts spent to cater for additional locum staff, according to Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham, is a result of the reorganisation of the NHS carried by the government. Burnham said the ministerial reorganisation has been “disastrous” and there has been a “gross management of the NHS”.

The rights of the patient are paramount and if you or a loved one has experience of poor care and medical mistreatment at A&E, Mistreatment.com is able to provide advice, guidance and support about how to make an official complaint to the relevant hospital or trust and to even make a medical negligence claim if the skill and expertise demonstrated at A&E, for example, fell below an acceptable standard and caused medical harm or deterioration in health.