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A&E crisis biting in North Cumbria’s hospitals as locum use soars


North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust is spending four times as much on temporary doctors to staff the county’s A&Es when compared to the period before the last General Election.

Figures obtained by the Labour Party through Freedom of Information requests show that the Trust is now spending £1,860,135 on locums to cover staff shortages and absences in Accident and Emergency departments compared to £431,138 back in 2010.

Hospitals across the country are now spending £83 million a year on locum doctors in A&E because they cannot permanently fill medical posts - an increase of over 60% since Labour's last year in Government.

Responding to the figures, Lee Sherriff, Labour’s candidate for Carlisle said:

“These figures show clearly the impact of the Government’s failure to deal with the crisis in our A&E departments. I am extremely concerned at the huge increase we have seen in North Cumbria over the last 4 years. A four-fold increase in the bill for temporary locum doctors shows we have a real problem.

“Staff at the hospital are working extremely hard and this is not a problem of their making. David Cameron has caused real harm to our NHS services and the impact on A&E is a direct consequences of the changes he forced through, including the disastrous changes to NHS Direct.

“The College of Emergency Medicine believes that hundreds of top doctor’s roles in A&E have gone unfilled in recent years, as the crisis in A&E puts people off wanting to work in emergency departments. The government must take urgent action.

“I will be asking the local Trust for re-assurance on the current staffing levels in A&E. Local people deserve an emergency department staffed by well qualified, permanent and settled staff.”

Andy Burnham MP, Labour's Shadow Health Secretary, said:

"The full consequences of David Cameron's disastrous re-organisation are now being felt across the NHS.

"Doctors pleaded with the Prime Minister to stick to his promise of 'no top-down re-organisation' because they knew it would drag the NHS down and distract attention from front-line. Cameron refused to listen and ploughed on regardless, dismantling workforce planning structures just when senior A&E doctors were warning of a looming recruitment crisis.

"The NHS is now reeling from the consequences of the Prime Minister's failure to act on these warnings. He has left it with a dangerous shortage of A&E doctors and a bill for locums which is spiralling out of control.

"This Government is guilty of gross mismanagement of the NHS. They are paying more for an A&E service which is getting worse by the week. And things have got so bad that many doctors are deciding to quit.

"Sadly it is patients who are paying the price for Cameron's arrogance. More than a million people have waited more than four hours to be seen in the last year.

"This is an A&E crisis of David Cameron's own making and there's a real danger it will overwhelm hospitals. He must urgently get to grips with it, take action to bring down the bill for locum doctors and ensure all A&Es have enough doctors to get safely through the winter."

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