Three NHS Trusts in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire have collaborated on a streamlined approach to offering locum doctor jobs, which allows them better access to the number of temporary medical staff they need while allowing their budgets to go further.
Under the arrangement, United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust, and Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are able to access the locum doctors they need through a single agency agreement.
As a result, each has saved about £3 million on their annual expenditure on locum doctors – a total of £9 million off of the £30-40 million they were previously spending in total.
The arrangement also has the potential to extend to include temporary nursing staff and other short-term health professional roles, meaning other parts of the Trusts’ employment budget will likely eventually be covered under the existing agreement.
Entering into the arrangement needed close collaboration between the Trusts, with support at both the executive and clinical levels, and this was achieved partly thanks to the cost savings that could be made, and partly due to a desire to develop more collaborative working practices.
It’s an indication of a more rigorous approach to employing temporary healthcare staff, not only including locum doctors but also nurses and allied health workers under the potential extension to the agreement.
But it also potentially opens up the regional market much more to those who are employed on a temporary or short-term basis by any one of the three Trusts, as this should now enable those individuals to work for all three Trusts as and when they are needed.
Overall this is a positive step for NHS budgets and for the availability of work across a wider area for those locum doctors employed by these three Trusts, and sets a useful precedent for the creation of similar arrangements elsewhere in the country in the future.