Conquest spends £2,000 a day on locum doctors

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DOCTORS are being drafted in from outside to work at the Conquest Hospital for more than £2,000 a day to cover staff shortages.

East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which also runs Eastbourne DGH, has spent £1.4 million on locum doctors since April 1 last year, when the current financial year started.

One 24-hour stint cost £1,983.

The news comes after it was revealed that health bosses handed more than £159,000 in on-the-job-expenses to financial experts called in to help balance the books at the Conquest.

In December it was also revealed that the trust spent a mammoth £4,105,605 on outside consultants between December 2010 and November last year.

The trust has previously been criticised for an over-reliance on locum doctors and has worked hard to wrestle its outgoings under control.

But the sum is substantially down on the spending between 2010-11, which saw management spend £2.4 million on temporary cover.

A trust spokesman said sometimes it had no choice but to fork out up to £82 an hour on visiting staff and that, once agency fees are taken into account, the amount is simply the going rate for that level of expertise.

He said: “Our priority is to provide safe quality services for patients, which requires appropriate medical cover. In order to do this, there are occasions when we have to use locum doctors and employ doctors from an agency.”

The highest fee in recent years was paid for a consultant to cover a 22-hour shift in accident and emergency back in 2009. That cost £2,090, or £95 an hour.