Local hospital trust paid £2,300 for single doctor shift

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospital Trust (BHRUT) paid £2,297 for an A&E doctor to work a 24-hour shift last year, it has been revealed.

The astonishing figure came to light following a Freedom of Information request by a national newspaper, which showed the huge amounts of money being spent by UK hospitals on agency staff.

In a list of the most expensive shifts in 2012, BHRUT was among nine trusts which spent more than £1,000 on shifts lasting between nine-and-a-half and 24 hours.

The trust, which manages Queen’s and King George hospitals, is up to £150million in debt.

Speaking of the pay-outs, Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: “This is a shockingly wasteful way to run a service.

“So many hospitals are paying vast sums because there is no proper planning and management, so instead we see locums being brought in on a last-minute, ad hoc basis, at huge expense and to the detriment of patient care.”

BHRUT’s medical director, Dr Mike Gill, defended the payments, saying: “In areas where it is particularly difficult to recruit consultants – such as in emergency care – we occasionally have to pay more than we would like to ensure that shifts are covered and patients are receiving the best possible care.”