MSP says the millions spent on locum doctors is unsustainable

South Scotland list MSP Colin Smyth says relying on locum doctors is not a long-term solution to NHS recruitment issues, as new figures reveal the escalating cost.

Colin Smyth wants to see a long-term strategy development instead of a reliance on locum doctors
Colin Smyth wants to see a long-term strategy development instead of a reliance on locum doctors

Statistics released to Scottish Labour under Freedom of Information requests reveal that NHS boards have been paying out millions to private sector companies.

In NHS Dumfries and Galloway 76,680 hours were worked by locum doctors in acute and diagnostics care in 2021/22.

The health board spent just under £9.7m on locum doctors in 2021/22 and a total of nearly £31.5m from 2017-2022.

Mr Smyth believes the figures highlight a worrying over-reliance upon this expensive and unsustainable form of NHS staffing.

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 its mismanagement over the past 15 years.

"Anyone looking at these locum figures can see that this is clearly an unsustainable way to manage NHS staffing.

“By failing to recruit permanent staff through attractive pay and conditions, the Scottish Government has forced our NHS to become an addict to short term staffing fixes.

"This is an expensive sticking plaster that highlights the endemic lack of long-term strategy from the Health Minister.”