NHS Borders has defended the use of locum doctors after it was revealed it spent £2.5million on temporary medics last year – up by nearly £2million on 2009.
But the local health board is expecting that outlay to fall in the years ahead following “a successful recruitment drive”.
Data gathered by the BBC shows that NHS Borders spent more than £5.6million in the last four years on temporary doctors. In one instance, a single agency stand-in was paid £5,573 for a 48-hour shift. Responding yesterday, a spokesperson for NHS Borders told The Southern: “Locum doctors are engaged to ensure safe and accessible provision of a full range of local health services.
“Our locum expenditure has, in the main, been to cover gaps in frontline specialities, including the primary care out-of-hours service, acute and emergency medicine, anaesthetics and intensive care. For some specialities there have been significant workforce challenges over the last three years due to maternity leave, sickness absence and a national shortage of doctors.
“In response, NHS Borders has been increasing the number of medical posts and has recently made substantial progress in recruiting new doctors to fill these vacancies.
“As a result, we anticipate a decrease in the amount spent on locum doctors over the next few years.”