NHS boards spending up to £1,400 on GP cover each day, Labour says

3 July 2018, 05:36

Doctor Generic

Health boards are paying up to £1,400 a day for locum GP cover, according to new figures.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request by Scottish Labour found GPs charged as much as £1,400 per day for cover in Orkney in 2016/17.

Charges in NHS Lanarkshire were as high as £1,132 per day and £885 per day in NHS Ayrshire and Arran.

Two of the biggest health boards in the country - Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) and the Lothians - were unable to provide the information but NHSGGC said out-of-hours locums are able to charge more than £100 an hour.

Labour's health spokesman Anas Sarwar said: "The NHS is our most valued public service and Labour's proudest achievement.

"It is utterly shocking that the SNP GP crisis has created a situation where locum costs are over a thousand pounds a day.

"The reality is the SNP has underfunded primary care for over a decade and, as a result, family doctors are left overstretched, overworked and under too much pressure.

"Our NHS as a whole is in the grips of a workforce crisis. Labour's workforce commission, made up of independent experts and health service staff, will examine solutions that deliver real change for our health service so that it is fit for the many, not the few."

A spokesman for Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: "It says it all about the Labour Party that at the very moment we should be celebrating the magnificent achievements of the NHS over the last 70 years and thanking the staff for their hard work, Anas Sarwar and his colleagues plan to spend the week talking it down.

"Investment in our health service is currently at a record high and we aim to increase the number of GPs by at least 800 over ten years to ensure a sustainable service that meets increasing demand.

"The new GP contract, backed by investment of £110 million this year, will ensure GPs are able to spend more time with patients and less time on bureaucracy, helping to cut doctors' workload.

"We are continuing to drive down the use of agencies and have been clear with boards that they should only use agency as a last resort when temporary staff are required."