Short staffed hospitals 'offer doctors £95 an hour' to fill rota gaps

Will Worley
The demands of A&E departments are forcing hospitals to offer doctors huge pay hourly pay rates: Getty Images

Short staffed hospitals are reportedly so desperate to cover rota gaps they are offering to pay doctors up to £95 an hour.

Several strained hospitals have been "begging" doctors to work in order to meet the necessary minimum staffing levels.

Opposition politicians called the revelations "alarming".

In an attempt to coax doctors into working shifts in an “extremely busy” A&E, Peterborough City hospital advertised £95 an hour for a 10-hour shift last Tuesday, the Guardian reported.

The North West Anglia NHS foundation trust described the decision to advertise the maximum incentivised rate for senior doctors as “exceptional” but necessary to “ensure safe medical staffing levels”.

Last week, the Dudley Group NHS foundation trust increased fees for senior doctors from £60 to £70 an hour to staff A&E, the newspaper reported.

The Guardian also published extracts of numerous desperate emails pleading with staff to volunteer to work and help fill gaps in the rota.

An email sent in March from the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford said: “I am sorry to be sending so many messages but I am in real need here. I am practically begging at this point. I really need some help.

“Can ANYONE help out for any length of the shifts needed this weekend? It really is a matter of keeping the department safe.”

Many doctors often work 70 hours a week or more, and there were several reports of medics being forced to go on-call immediately after 12 hour shifts.

Doctors described the staffing situation as “rather dangerous”, “bad for morale” and “worrying”.

The Government defended its health policy and said it was investing in NHS staff.

But opposition parties said the Government was not spending enough on the NHS. Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “The public will rightly be alarmed to hear that hospitals are struggling to recruit enough doctors. Patient safety is being put at risk because of this Government’s abject failure to recognise the importance of safe staffing levels, alongside imposing on the NHS the biggest financial squeeze in its history.

“Theresa May's approach to the NHS crisis has been one of utter incompetence. Now she must take urgent action to tackle the rising problem of rota gaps in our hospitals.

"Only by properly investing in our medical workforce and primary care services will she finally be putting patient welfare at the heart of her Government’s approach to the NHS.”

And Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Norman Lamb said: "Hospitals are struggling to recruit staff because of the public pay freeze and underfunding in the NHS which leaves working conditions ever less attractive.

"Yet the government is making it even harder for hospitals to recruit by its muddled hard Brexit, rejecting Liberal Democrat demands to give an NHS passport guaranteeing the right to remain for all EU citizens working in the health and social care system.

"The staffing crisis in the NHS is only going to grow worse unless the government accepts cross-party calls to give the health service the decent, long-term funding it needs."

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