Financial pressures in the NHS have led to a reduction in the use of temporary staff and a sharp drop in spending on consultancy, new data shows.

Trusts spent £3.71bn on temporary staff including agency workers, locums and those on short-term contracts in 2010-11, according to data collated by Laing and Buisson.

That is £300m less than the previous year – a 7.4 per cent drop.

At the same time there was an estimated 4.3 per cent increase in costs on permanent staff, the NHS Financial Information 2012 report said.

Primary care trusts reduced overall use of temporary staff from 9.8 per cent of staff costs to 7.9 per cent while foundation trusts’ figure reduced from 7.1 per cent to 6.2 per cent.

The same report showed spending on consultancy dropped sharply in 2010-11. English PCTs’ spending on consultancy services dropped from £261m to £138m, with some dramatic reductions by individual trusts.

Camden PCT spent £12.2m on consultancy in 2009-10 but slashed that to just £2.1m in 2010-11 while Tower Hamlets went from £8.8m to £2.9m.

However, use of consultants by NHS trusts and foundation trusts was less affected with their combined spend moving from £283m to £274m.

The single biggest spender on consultancy was King’s College Hospital FT, which increased spending from £23.9m to £24.6m.

Private patient income was more or less unchanged at £441m in 2010-11.

However, revenue from overseas patients increased by 32 per cent from £27m to £35m.