WORKFORCE: Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust, which is trying to cut 400 posts out of the workforce, has increased the number of agency staff it uses.

A report to the board of the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust revealed that between the end of April and the end of August, the number of substantive employees decreased by 53 WTE, while the total number of staff including flexible labour has increased by 79.

It continued: “In August the proportion of flexible labour had increased from 5 per cent of the total in July to 7 per cent in August.”

The trust is planning to cut 400 posts as part of a £19m savings plan, equivalent to 6.3 per cent of turnover.

The report states the majority of agency use relates to work by the trust to reduce its referral to treatment backlog but a reduction in total staffing and particularly flexible labout is being prioritsed.

Actions being taken include:

  • reviewing use of bank and agency staff in non clinical areas;
  • authorisation levels for flexible labour have been raised, and recruitment of permanent vacancies now require the authorisation of the finance director, chief operating officer and human resources director at a regular weekly meeting;
  • reviewing whether further redundancies are required.