Up to 80 extra staff could be recruited at a Black Country hospital to reduce the multi-million pound bill for temporary workers, health chiefs have revealed.
Bosses at Walsall Manor are looking to increase the workforce to deal with a rising number of patients and cut down on the number of external bank or agency nurses, ahead of the busy winter period.
If the current rate of expenditure continues the total spend on bank staff would be £9.7 million by the end of the year. Many bank shifts are being booked to sit with patients who are at a high risk of falls, and directors at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust are planning to recruit 40 apprentices to take on some of the role.
Up to 40 extra nurses are also set to be employed. It is anticipated there will be an initial 20 followed by a further 20 after a review.
The plans are worth almost £800,000 in this financial year but health chiefs say it will help to improve the quality of care while tackling the high costs of temporary workers.
It emerged earlier this month that the overall bill for bank, locum and agency staff was £4.39m in April, May and June. The recruitment of apprentices will scale down the need to bring in ‘sitters’ and provide further support to nurses. In turn they will receive training to help them progress into other roles within the trust.
It is expected the nurses who will be brought in would be ‘absorbed’ into the trust after March due to vacancies and turnover.
Chief executive Richard Kirby said they were looking to take action because of patient numbers and how staff were being deployed.
“We are using a much larger number of temporary staff than we have done previously,” Mr Kirby said. “The way we are doing it at the moment is very expensive to us.”
In a report to the board Kathryn Halford, associate director of nursing, said: “Historically bank shifts have been covered by bank, many of whom are substantive employees of the trust who work extra hours.
"With the increased levels of activity, staff have continued to work additional hours but it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract people to do this extra work.”