Sussex

Sussex NHS trust pays locum consultant £2,446 for a day

An NHS trust that paid a consultant £2,446 to oversee maternity wards for a day has been criticised.

Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals confirmed it spent the money on a locum consultant for their maternity wards over a 24-hour period.

Dr John Lister, from London Health Emergency, said it showed a failure to deliver a sustainable workforce.

The NHS trust said the working time directive limited doctors' hours and the maternity shift had to be covered.

An NHS spokesman also said the trust's priority was to provide safe quality services for patients and sometimes locum agency doctors were needed, but that particular locum shift was to cover a vacancy that had now been filled.

'Unacceptable charges'

Dr Lister said: "The underlying question is are trusts investing properly in developing a stable workforce and are they actually making the proper efforts to make sure these basic services are staffed, because obviously this type of locum stand-in service is very expensive and always will be."

He said the trust needed to look seriously at making sure they had proper staff in place they could pay on staff rates and added: "It rather indicates a lapse of management and a failure to deliver a sustainable workforce."

Conservative MP for Hastings and Rye, Amber Rudd, said: "The best thing would be to have a more flexible workforce which means having some sort of compromise between the current working time directive of 48 hours and the old working 100 hours which is too much.

"We need some sort of compromise and then the hospitals won't have to face these terrible charges which are just unacceptable at a time when we have to limit NHS spending."

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