Expensive locums still costing WHSCT
THE Western Trust spent over £10m on expensive locum doctors between 2009 and 2012, an improvement on the £25m spent in the 2007 to 2011 period, it’s been revealed.
In 2011 a Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO) report revealed the cost of expensive locum cover in the Western Trust accounted for almost 17 per cent of medical staffing - double the NI average and the highest locum bill in the province - between 2007 and 2011.
Now Health Minister Edwin Poots has revealed that between 2008 and 2012 the Trust spent £10,535,000 on locums, which was less than the Belfast Trust.
However, Mr Poots said the Belfast Trust’s systems cannot isolate expenditure on Agency employed locum consultants from expenditure on other Agency employed medical locums.
“Thus, the figures for Belfast Trust include expenditure in respect of Agency locum junior and middle-ranking doctors,” the Minister stated.
The NIAO report on locums in 2011 that revealed £25m had been spent in the Western Trust between 2007 and 2011, suggested a noted increase in expenditure could be partly blamed on a tightening of UK border control which made it harder for medical graduates from outside the EU to work in the country.
The report published in 2011 showed costs spiked upwards from £4.7m to £9m over the four years between 2007 and 2011.
New immigration rules, introduced in February 2008, restricted the number of overseas doctors eligible to work in the UK and were blamed for the costs increase with the NIAO saying the Trust’s reliance on International Medical Graduates (IMGs) had been partly replaced by a disproportionate use of locum cover.
Last October the Sentinel reported how the Western Trust employed 71 locum doctors - some paid over £100k - in order to cover vacancies, sick leave, maternity leave, and to relieve backlogs of work or additional workload.
Seventeen consultants (paid between £74,504 and £100,446); six speciality doctors (paid between £36,807 and £68,638); and 10 Locum Appointment for Service/Trust Doctors (paid between £27,798 and £39,300) were last October directly employed by the Trust.
Ten consultants (paid between £71.37 and £109.52 per hour); 16 speciality doctors (paid between £49.52 and £77.50 per hour); nine Locum Appointment for Service (paid between £38.38 and £77.50 per hour); and three Foundation Doctors (paid between £27.55 and £60.64 per hour) were provided by agencies.
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