NHS Fife to cut £19m from agency bill

Main entrance to Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy
Main entrance to Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy

NHS Fife is expected to cut its budget by £19.65m over the next year.

Spending on agendy staff is to be cut – and reductions in admin staff will also deliver savings.

The nursing and midwife departments currently make up the largest group of staff employed at NHS Fife, of 48.8 per cent.

However, at a board meeting in Kirkcaldy on Wednesday, it was reported that NHS Fife has already overspent by £1.4m for the financial year which only began in April.

This was attributed to additional supplement staff – bank staff –needed to cover staff sicknesses.

NHS Fife spent £8.49m on supplementary agency staff until the end of March.

That was an increase of 16.4 per cent from the previous year.

The majority, some £6.5m, went towards medical and dental staff.

There was a 13.3 per cent increase in supplementary staff in the nursing and midwifery department, with £979,900 being spent to the year ending March 31.

The largest increase was in acute services, in relation to winter pressure and the “Beast from the East”.

Barbara Nelson, director of workforce, said: “We are continuing to look at staff sickness levels.

“From February to April, there has already been a decrease in staff absences, which is showing a positive movement.”

Councillor David Graham said: “It’s great to see a reduction in staff sicknesses, but that’s not by mistake.

“We are working towards reducing this figure, which is stubbornly high.”

NHS Fife is also looking to move away from a reliance on external bank staff systems and create an internal bank system, where remuneration is more closely linked to NHS pay-scales.

A cut in administrative staff is also expected to bring savings to the board.

A restructuring has meant that over a five year period, there has been a cut of around 100 non-clinical, administrative services, and support services workers. These roles currently make up the second largest group of workers at 26.5 per cent.

NHS Fife also hopes that the roll out of new technology will help save money.

The Scottish Government’s system which helps patients monitor blood pressure at home; a video call programme and a system which allows medical conditions to be observed remotely is also looked at being rolled out.