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Use Locum Consultants and Save Money, HCL Tells NHS

Use Locum Consultants and Save Money, HCL Tells NHS

Employing locum consultants to meet patient demand in hospitals would cost the NHS less than paying overtime to substantive locums, according to HCL, one of Europes leading health and social care staffing companies.

HCL was responding to a report by the BBC which stated that some consultants are making more than 100,000 a year in overtime payments, at a time when the NHS has been tasked with achieving significant cost savings.

The BBC report found that some overtime rates total about 600 for four hours, or 150 per hour. HCL pointed out that most medical recruitment agencies would charge significantly less than this, making locum consultants cheaper per hour to employ than full time consultants working overtime.

HCL added that there were other advantages to bringing in locum consultants to deal with peaks in demand in hospitals. The flexible nature of their employment contracts means that they are only paid for the hours they are actually working, and do not incur hidden costs such as NHS employer pension contributions. Furthermore they alleviate the workload placed on full time consultants, thus reducing the potential risk of tiredness and stress, which can both have adverse effects on the care given to patients.

Kate Bleasdale, Executive Vice Chairman of HCL, commented:
"The size and frequency of these overtime payments would seem to point to a shortage of consultants to meet peaks in demand in acute care settings. Rather than overburdening already busy consultants and the NHSs finances - with overtime, the obvious solution is to make greater use of flexible locum consultants to support the workforce during periods of high demand. Not only does it cost the NHS less, hour for hour, but it also prevents full time consultants from becoming overworked, which could compromise patient care.

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