Greater Lincolnshire

Local Democracy Weekly: Chiefs jump ship as hospitals drown in agency costs

As the cold is set to bite on Lincolnshire’s health service, trust finances have been in the spotlight as health bosses scratch around for “efficiencies” while preparing for an influx of winter patients knocking at the A&E door.

Both United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust and Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Trust have already racked up a combined deficit of £69 million for the first six months of 2018.


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Not only that, but the forecasts for both organisations by the end of the financial year do not look rosy. ULHT is set to be over its overspend target by £7.5 million and NLaG by £12 million.

Recently, we learned that the health service had a difficult summer with staffing pressures and an increase in demand.

The problems with recruitment are a year round issue, but with the heatwave this year it was exasperated.

But, both trusts have historically racked up agency costs which Dr Peter Reading, chief executive of NLaG, admitted are of “no financial benefit to the health service”.

We last reported that ULHT alone was spending around £30 million a year on agency costs.

This means the trust is trying to remedy a staffing crisis by bringing in workers at a higher premium who are not permanent.

It’s a simple area to target which will both bring down costs and allow the trusts to embark upon a considered recruitment drive.

This will provide doctors and nurses which will be familiar to patients as they work regular shift patterns.

Dr Reading is set to stay on at the trust as he set a target to be out of financial special measures by 2019.

But, at ULHT, both Jan Sobieraj, chief executive, and the director of finance, Karen Brown, are about to leave the trust at a time of great change yet enormous difficulty.

Both will leave behind a trust still in both financial and quality special measures with a forecast end of year deficit of £82.2 million.


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