NHS locum spend tops £10m
Regional health service spending on locum staff is rising at a “shocking” rate.
New figures revealed that costs have more than doubled for temporary workers in Dumfries and Galloway to more than £10m in four years.
The NHS has regularly tried to recruit more permanent staff to the region and even launched adverts abroad.
And a spokesperson for NHS Dumfries and Galloway insisted: “This is a national problem and, in particular, affects a region like Dumfries and Galloway due to its geography and rural nature.
“NHS Dumfries and Galloway continues to actively recruit to a wide range of clinical and support vacancies including doctors and nursing staff, to ensure that we are able to deliver safe and effective health and care services for everyone within our region.
“Our workforce plans and projections take account of this and recognise the significant investment we have made in our workforce establishment over the past 18 months as part of our Acute Services Redevelopment Programme.
“In that period we have recruited consultants in the following specialities to join our teams at NHS Dumfries and Galloway; radiology, anaesthetics, acute medicine, microbiology, paediatrics, infectious diseases and haematology, plus a range of nursing and support services posts have been filled.
“We are using new and innovative ways to recruit nationally and internationally promoting vacancies and the region itself as a place for individuals, couples and families to live and work in and will develop this programme further over the coming months.”
Labour MSP Colin Smyth claimed the rise in costs was due to “mismanagement of our NHS”.
Figures released by the Information Services Division ( ISD) Scotland showed that for the year end March 31, 2018, the locum spend by NHS Dumfries and Galloway was £10,517,716 – double the £5,221,615 spent in 2014 and a £500,000 increase from last year alone.
Mr Smyth said: “These are shocking figures. Locums are temporary staff brought in to cover when permanent posts such, as consultants and doctors, can’t be filled.
“I believe the massive rise in costs are a symptom of the mismanagement of our NHS under the SNP Government in Holyrood, and in particular in relation to workforce planning. The figures of locum spend in Dumfries and Galloway won’t come as a surprise.
“There are vacancies right across the board that simply can’t be filled, forcing the local NHS to spend huge sums on temporary staff which is massively more expensive than permanent contracts.
“In the Galloway Community Hospital alone we see locums called in to cover the four consultant vacancies – and this is just the tip of the recruitment crisis facing NHS Dumfries and Galloway.”
He added: “It’s high time that the SNP tackle the recruitment time facing every aspect of our NHS. Scottish Labour have set up a workforce commission that will devise options to tackle the recruitment crisis and protect our NHS services here in Dumfries and Galloway.”
Figures for locums for 2015/16 were £6,398,700 which was down on the previous financial year of £7,532,550.
Criticism Labour MSP Colin Smyth