WORKFORCE: Sussex Partnership Foundation Trust noted an increase in its agency pay bill for January, which it said was partly caused by a doctor’s invoice being “higher than estimated”.

In its latest performance report, the trust said agency spending now equated to 1.10 per cent of the total month’s pay bill, up slightly from 1.08% in the previous month. Actual agency spend was £149,000 against a target of £133,000, an increase from £147,000 in the previous month.

The report stated: “The slight increase is due to prior month invoices being higher than estimated for corporate and for a doctor in Hampshire child and adolescent mental health services.

“Tighter controls continue around the signing off of agency cover.”

Reducing agency spend is one of the trust’s staffing priorities, which form part of its business objectives for 2011-12.