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A collaborative project involving nine acute hospital trusts from the South West aims to improve fill rates for locum doctors and at the same time reduce the amount spent on agency staff across the region, whilst maintaining safe and effective care for patients.

The South West consortium was formed 18 months ago to establish the best working practice to manage medical agency supply.  The key aims of the work were to:

  • Manage the medical agency locum market with the introduction of standardised hourly rates and to ensure continued levels of supply.
  • Harness NHS buying power to secure the best commercial rates.
  • Improve financial governance.
  • Establish an IT booking system which will introduce e-timesheets, and provide Management Information (MI) reporting.

Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust acted in both a project management role, and in a separate procurement lead role for the project contract development.

Laura Langsford, Consortium Project Manager explains:
“It was recognised that only by working together did trusts have the best chance to source safe levels of medical locums at affordable rates without comprising on the quality of care delivered to patients.

It has taken a period of 18 months from project inception to contract start, which has required all nine Consortium Trusts to work very closely together. Through this collaborative approach a cost saving of 10% could be achieved.  I am delighted to have been part of this work that should deliver a real change for the trusts involved.”

Dr Tim Scull, Medical Director at Yeovil Hospital, said:
“Recruitment to medical posts is currently a challenge for all trusts. Whilst we maintain our focus upon substantively recruiting to vacancies we, like all trusts, will continue to rely upon locums at certain times and for certain roles to ensure the capacity and quality of our medical workforce.

“Working together as part of the consortium gives us greater control over the cost and availability of locums doctors, meaning we can be provide a dependable service to our patients.”

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This post was written by Helen Stobbs

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