Colin Smyth MSP
Colin Smyth MSP

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has said that relying on locum doctors is not a long term solution to NHS recruitment issues, as Scottish Labour figures reveal the escalating cost of locum doctors across Scotland’s NHS.

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

In 2021/22, the five health boards who responded paid out a total of £68.4 million for locum doctors. The total amount spent has been increased year on year but in 2019/20 – the year before the pandemic – the total private locum bill was still £55.7 million.

The figures highlight a worrying over-reliance upon this expensive and unsustainable form of NHS staffing, with evidence that some health boards were paying in excess of £3,000 for a single locum shift.

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth 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 that highlights the endemic lack of long-term strategy from the SNP Health Minister.”

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