WORKFORCE: North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust has launched a recruitment drive after seeing its bill for agency staff go up by 57 per cent in the first half of 2012-13 compared with the same period last year.

The trust’s latest finance report states: “Agency costs were £0.7m in September and now total £4.4m year to date compared with £2.8m for the first six months of 2011-12.

“A new recruitment drive has recently been launched in an effort to recruit to key vacancies with particular emphasis on posts within emergency services.”

The report adds that while its elective activity and income fell “further behind plan” in September, non-elective and accident and emergency activity and income were “increasingly ahead of plan”.

It states: “Despite higher than planned non-elective activity [the trust’s] income was lower than planned in September with elective income in a number of key specialties falling further behind plan reflecting the increasing contract penalties. Action needs to be taken to ensure that elective activity recovers in order to maintain waiting list times and secure planned income levels.”

At the end of September the trust was reporting a surplus of £122,000, against a planned surplus of £281,000. However, this surplus came after the trust had received £13.6m of “strategic support funding”.