WORKFORCE: The foundation’s pay bill for the first nine months of 2010-11 was £2.7m higher than planned, its February finance report showed.

The report, released to HSJ under the Freedom of Information Act, states that its medical staffing bill had been reduced by £2m by “slippage on investments in medical staffing and gaps in junior doctors”. But this was cancelled out by an extra £2.5m spent on agency staff.

“There is a need to review the level of vacancies in medical staff, however, the position has improved in month as a result of cessation of waiting list activity and recruitment of some longstanding vacancies in Emergency Care Division. Use of agency and locums is concerning due to the high cost and adverse productivity,” it stated.

Overall, pay costs for the year to December 31 were £2.7m worse than anticipated.

The report continued: “Nursing costs continue to overspend due to the ongoing high use of bank and agency to cover vacancies and short term bed pressures… Bank and agency spend has deteriorated against the previous month and is higher than the levels experienced in the last financial year.

It added: “Close monitoring of the recruitment, retention and use of bank and agency is required. A number of business cases to reduce reliance on bank and agency have been agreed and attempts at recruitment are taking place.”