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Bromley doctors paid hundreds of thousands to clear waiting lists

PUBLISHED: 15:51 25 January 2012

Princess Royal University Hospital, Farnborough

Princess Royal University Hospital, Farnborough

Archant

Surgeons are being paid hundreds of thousands of pounds in overtime to clear a huge backlog of patients awaiting surgery.

Nine hundred patients are exceeding 18-week targets from referral to operation at South London Healthcare Trust – which manages the Princess Royal in Farnborough, Queen Mary’s in Sidcup and Queen Elizabeth in Woolwich.

Surgeons, theatre nurses and anaesthetists are being paid time-and-a-half for extra surgical shifts to reduce the patient jam. The trust admitted it had “speeded up” its overtime drive since November.

But one doctor claimed that regular surgery was not managed efficiently and that the extra days were not necessary.

The doctor, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “It is a waste of money. On the one hand the hospital is being told to save money by sacking doctors and on the other it is paying for unnecessary overtime. They are not filling up the lists properly. There is no communication between the managers who do the lists and the doctors.”

He claims surgeons receive around £1,000 per day for extra operations but that there are often too few operations on the lists which doctors are given and that they finish well before they are scheduled to do so.

SLHT admitted that it had paid for 175 days of overtime – which according to the doctor would amount to around £330,000 including anaesthetists and theatre nurses.

The trust claims the backlog is due to a lack of capacity and increases in emergency operations throughout winter.

A trust spokesman said: “In order to ensure patients are treated in a timely manner it is essential to increase the overall capacity over and above the normal working week’s work. It is envisaged that the backlog will have been cleared and 18-week targets will be met by the end of March 2012.”

“Theatre lists are reviewed by clinical staff in a weekly meeting and additional cases are added where capacity allows.”

In December the Times reported how up to 132 doctors could be made redundant under proposals to save £30m by next year.

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