NHS Borders reduces its agency staff costs

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NHS Borders has reduced its bill for using agency doctors by 70% over the past year, the biggest reduction in agency spending in Scotland’s NHS.

Dr Cliff Sharp, medical director at NHS Borders, oversaw the drop from £3.27 million last year to just £0.968 million this year, resulting in a £2.302 million saving.

Commenting on the recently released NHS in Scotland Information and Statistics Division figures, Dr Sharp said: “It is widely recognised that there are a number of workforce challenges for the NHS, such as recruitment and retention issues and an ageing population.

“Despite this NHS Borders has made several successful appointments to highly specialist posts.

“For instance, in February 2018 I was delighted when, on the retirement of a long serving colleague, we recruited to a stroke physician post regardless of many similar vacancies across the country.

“Consultant vacancies in March 2018 were running at around 3%, the lowest vacancy rate that any of us can remember for many years.

“It is encouraging that, given the choices available across the country, highly skilled medical professionals are choosing to come and live and work in the Scottish Borders. Those of us who have done so know the many benefits that living in the Borders brings.

“These benefits, coupled with great professional opportunities within NHS Borders, are attracting highly skilled people to come and work with us, and this is great news all round.

“Although the recruitment challenge is not going to diminish, we will use every opportunity to create a more resilient workforce, which enables us to continue to provide a consistently high quality service to the people of the Borders.”

In the past year NHS Borders has gained an additional 22.7 (whole time equivalent) nursing and midwifery staff. There are an extra 15.8 extra nurses in general adult care but a decrease of 4.5 paediatric nursing staff. Physiotherapy and pharmacy service staff levels have increased by 3.5%.

There are also 14 general practice specialist trainees working and training within NHS Borders as part of new national employment arrangements which ensure that they have a single employer for their three-year training post.