Consultant at Dudley's Russells Hall Hospital paid £3,608 for ONE shift

A consultant at Russells Hall Hospital was paid a staggering £3,608 for a single shift.

The eye-watering amount was paid on Friday December 4th last year, for a 24-hour stint at £150 per hour that included being on call. 

It comes as hospital trusts across the West Midlands revealed they spent more than £68 million on temporary staff such as locum doctors and agency nurses.

The Dudley Group, which runs Russells Hall, saw its spending on locum doctors nearly double to £4.3m last year while agency nurses cost £6.2m – up from £4.6m in 2015/16.

The most paid for an agency nurse was £1,847 – roughly £153 – for a 12-hour shift on New Year's Day, which this year was a Sunday. The trust also paid a specialist doctor £1,507 for a nine and a half hour shift to cover the New Year's bank holiday on January 2 this year. The amount works out at around £158 per hour. Dudley Group Trust chief executive Diane Wake said: 

"To make sure patients are safe and cared for by appropriately skilled clinicians at all times, we sometimes use locum doctors to cover shortages.

"On Sunday, December 4 2016 we had to fill a gap in our acute medicine consultant rota with a locum. 

"The payment for this shift would have included – undertaking the daily consultant ward round; any subsequent medical treatment or intervention required as a result; being the on-call acute medicine consultant for 24 hours; taking telephone queries or concerns from the acute medicine on-call team during this period; any on-call visits to hospital to undertake consultant duties during this period

"All requests to fill shifts with locum doctors go through a very stringent process involving senior staff to ensure the cover is needed and appropriate.

"Locum spending is monitored locally by individual departments and the board of directors receives monthly reports on the use of locums.

"We have recently reviewed our processes around the use of locum doctors to make them even more robust in order to reduce spending and make the system more efficient. 

"Our use of agency staff will obviously reduce once we are able to fill these posts and we are doing all we can to recruit."

Figures released to the Express & Star under Freedom of Information revealed the Royal Wolverhampton Trust, which runs New Cross and Cannock Chase hospitals, spent £2.9m on locum doctors in 2016/17 and £400,000 on agency nurses.

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