ROTHERHAM Hospital spent £15.5 million on agency staff in the past year — nearly FIVE times more than planned.
The reliance on non-permanent workers left Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust £8.6 million in the red in 2015/16.
It was also one of the main reasons for the hospital hitting a record low in the number of A&E patients seen within four hours.
Just 77.1 per cent of people were seen within four hours in March, well below the national NHS target of 95 per cent.
The standard was only met on one day during the month, leading to the trust’s worst score since the target was introduced in 2010.
Chief operating officer Chris Holt said: “Performance against the emergency access target proved to be a significant challenge.
“The principal reasons for such a deteriorating position in March, beyond the national challenges, were the ongoing medical workforce numbers and increased internal pressure on inpatient beds.”
Long-term absences meant a reliance on three of the ten consultants in the emergency departments — and a need for more locums.
Total spend on agency staff was £15.5 million for the financial year — £12.3 million worse than in the budget plan. The total was £13.2 million last year.
Monthly costs have remained in seven figures — with bills for £1.3 million in both February and March.
An international recruitment drive has seen 100 nurses arrive from Romania, Spain and Croatia since March 2015. Eighty-eight are still with the trust.
Deputy HR director Paul Ferrie said: “Agency costs remain a concern. The main recruitment challenge remains the ability to attract and retain registered nurses.
“Despite extensive recruitment, including from overseas, we were around 15 full-time equivalents short of the overall target for registered nurses at March 31.
“A number of recruitment campaigns are being managed by the team.”
Non-permanent staff made up 12 per cent of the wage bill. It was six per cent at the start of 2014/15.
Finance director Simon Sheppard said: “The trust continues to see bank and agency costs above the levels seen 12 months ago, with the main cost pressure being shown within medical staff as opposed to nursing staff.”
Chief executive Louise Barnett said in her end-of-year report: “Financial and clinical sustainability of the trust remain paramount.
“The trust continued to face considerable pressures in delivering the four-hour emergency access target in March, with several periods of performance that were poorer than in previous months.
“However, following a concentrated effort to galvanise colleagues’ engagement and increase focus on key actions, together with resourcing improvements, I am pleased to report that the trust is currently achieving the performance standard.”
A spokeswoman added: “We always strive for excellence on behalf of our patients and the people of Rotherham and overall our trust is moving forward.
“Because of the care and commitment of our colleagues we are in a much stronger position this year than we have been in the past.”