Trust pays 71 costly locums
THE Western Trust employs 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) are 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) are provided by agencies.
Health Minister Edwin Poots said: “The Department is taking forward the recommendations of the Public Accounts Committee report into the use of locum doctors by NI Hospitals as a priority.
“One of the main actions is the establishment of a Regionally Managed Medical Locum Service (RMMLS). Regional rates have been agreed and communicated to medical staff and registration for the service has taken place with a pilot of the service beginning shortly.
“This service will allow increased use of substantive staff to cover vacancies thus enabling Trusts to have a better control of the costs of locum cover.”
Last year it was revealed the cost of expensive locum cover in the Western Trust accounted for almost 17 per cent of medical staffing expenditure - double the Northern Ireland average and the highest locum bill in the province.
A huge £25m was spent on locums in the Western Trust between 2007/8 and 2010/11 and a report by the Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO) suggested the increase 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 use of locum doctors by Northern Ireland Hospitals’ 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) has now been partly replaced by a disproportionate use of locum cover.
Between 2007 and 2011 the Western Trust spent £198.1m on doctors; £172.2m on permanent doctors; and £25.9m in locum costs. Agency locums cost £18.7m and internal locums cost £7.2m. Locums accounted for 13.07 per cent of total doctor costs over the period.
In recent years the demand for locum doctors has risen due to workforce issues such as increased difficulty in filling vacancies through changes in immigration law and the impact of European legislation governing working hour
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