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NHS to end era of 'rip-off' locums, more than a third of public would volunteer in NHS, and new era of immunotherapy cancer treatment

A round-up of the morning’s health news headlines

The NHS is to launch a ‘clamp-down’ on ‘rip-off’ locum agencies, according to  NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens.

Mr Stevens told BBC One’s Andrew Marr show that NHS foundation trusts in England spent £1.8bn on agency on contract staff -  double the amount planned for.

He said: ‘What we’ve got to do is convert that [agency] spending into good, paying permanent jobs.’ And said the NHS would take action ‘collectively’ against agencies.

More than a third of people would volunteer their time to support the NHS, a survey by the Royal Voluntary Service has found.

The Guardian reports more than 2,000 people were surveyed and found 40% would be willing to work in shops and cafes for free, 39% would be willing to help in the community, such as taking patients on social visits.

Tony Stafford who volunteers for the RVS at Addenbrooke’s hospital in said: ‘My weekly shift is always busy and different. Often unprepared, patients find themselves alone and fearful, in pain, facing tests, assessments and possible admissions to wards. I find the work challenging at times, but immensely rewarding.’

And finally, the Telegraph and the Guardian are hailing a ‘new era’ of cancer treatment after the results of several successful immunotherapy trials were revealed at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual conference.

The Guardian reports one British-led trial had ‘spectacular’ success in patients with advanced melanomas, with more than half of patients in the trial seeing tumours shrink or brought under control using drugs.

Prof Roy Herbst, chief of medical oncology at Yale Cancer Centre said the treatment, which uses the body’s immune system to attack cancerous cells could replace chemotherapy as the first-line cancer treatment within five years.

Readers' comments (5)

  • NHS cannot fill in doctor vacancies without locum agencies.

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  • The Agency overspend is contributed to in a large way as well by Nurse shifts, as hospitals have cut spending on 'bank' staff.
    But some hospitals in the past have preferred to pay the Agency, rather than negotiate a reasonable rate with a suitable, available, local Locum doctor, who they have insisted should get only same rate as an employee - but without the holiday and sick pay benefits! Locums voted with their feet - serves the hospitals right.

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  • Need to look at why there is a high turnover of staff in certain trusts and why staff do not want permanent jobs in the NHS. Might have something to do with the NHS being an abusive toxic employer, that has a rampant out of control problem with bullying, poor unregulated management and health care workers who raise patient safety concerns being targeted having their livelihoods destroyed. All of this seems to be taking place with seeming indifference and possibly endorsement from the top. Meanwhile, market forces dictate that these very same staff (who have been subject to a pay freeze for years) can command far higher wages as agency staff or by emigrating. The pension, which used to be an incentive to remain as an NHS employee is being down graded and staff are realising that they have to make their own provision. Seems to be a no brainer.

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  • Managers are encouraged to make an optimistic financial plan to include the 'efficiency' savings demanded from on high then pay for locums due to 'surprising exceptional circumstances' such as winter, staff illness etc. The bail out then follows.
    No one is allowed to state that the modelling of a 100% capacity service makes no sense, and that overuns will occur, with the cheapest way to manage it being more permenant staff with better management culture and less bullying.

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  • Can't recruit staff?

    Gotta rely on agencies cause none wants to work for you?

    Solution? - get rid of the agencies...then you'll be truly screwed.

    SMART?!

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