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£31m locum pricetag is ‘worrying’

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By Fiona Reid
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£31m locum pricetag is 'worrying'

LOCUM doctors cost NHS Dumfries and Galloway £31,464,477 in the last five years.

The annual cost of cover has been rising since 2018 and hit £9.6 million last year.

The bill has been revealed through a Freedom of Information request by Scottish Labour.

And it shows that in 2017-18 the cost of using locums locally was £1.9 m; dropping to £1.3m in 2018-19.

When covid hit, it rose sharply to £9.9 million for 2019-20; followed by £8.5 million in 2020-21; and £9.6 million last year.

Also in 2020-21, 76,680 hours were worked by locum doctors in acute and diagnostics care in Dumfries and Galloway.

Commenting on the escalating costs, South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said that relying on locum doctors through private companies is not a long term solution to recruitment issues.

He said: “The figures for Dumfries and Galloway are very worrying. The level of vacancies for doctors and consultants is increasing, leaving huge gaps in services. But instead of addressing the problem, the Scottish Government can only come up with short term fixes.

“This recruitment crisis has happened because of 15 years of SNP mismanagement. Anyone looking at these locum figures can see that this is an unsustainable way to manage NHS staffing.

“By failing to recruit permanent staff through attractive pay and conditions, the SNP has forced our NHS to become an addict to short term staffing fixes. This is an expensive sticking plaster.”

NHS Dumfries and Galloway were contacted for comment.

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