NHS Temp Doctor Costs 'Rise By 60%'

Data Has Shown The NHS Is Relying More On Locum Doctors

14.01.2014

Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

New data obtained by the Labour Party as part of a Freedom of Information request has shown spending on locum doctors has increased by 60 per cent in the last three years.

The opposition party believes these medical professionals, who are meant to plug gaps in NHS services when doctors are absent, ill or unable to carry out their duties, are being overused by the government.

Indeed, critics claim locum doctors are substantially more expensive than their permanent counterparts and struggle to understand the needs of patients due to the short-term nature of their contracts.

Temporary doctors can cost up to £1,500 per shift, which is somewhere around four times as much as a normal member of staff.

Figures obtained by the Labour Party show the amount of money spent on these types of contracts rose from £52 million when it was in power in 2009-10, to £83.3 million in 2013.

Conservative MP Dr Dan Poulter, who works part-time in a clinic as a doctor and is a health minister, said: "There has been for many years a problem. It was first flagged up in 2004 under the previous government about recruiting doctors into A&E and it takes six years to train A&E doctors, so this well pre-dates the current government."

However, Labour shadow health secretary Andy Burnham disputed this and claimed the coalition is implementing a "disastrous" reorganisation of the NHS.

"This government is guilty of gross mismanagement of the NHS. They are paying more for an A&E service which is getting worse by the week," Mr Burnham added.

Government secretary of state for health Jeremy Hunt denies this and believes the coalition is doing a good job in protecting the NHS from austerity cuts.

The Conservative politician argues policies like named GPs for over-75s will reduce the pressure on A&E units, while increased investment in community care is helping hospitals to become more productive.

Expert Opinion
While the majority of patients receive a fantastic service by the NHS both in and out of main working hours, we have worked with a number of families whose lives have been devastated by the negligent actions of some locum doctors.

“As well as the financial figures mentioned in this article, there can also be other issues such as communication problems and sometimes a lack of ability to understand the bigger picture with some patients whose conditions may be more long term.

“Where temporary doctors are to be used, it is important that they are given a thorough briefing on all issues relevant to their patients. Reliance on temporary staff is always a worry and might suggest that those in charge of staffing levels at our hospitals are either unsure of what they need or are struggling to find the personnel.”
Lisa Jordan, Partner