South Scotland

Dumfries and Galloway locum spending continues to rise

Locum doctors Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Spending on locum doctors in Dumfries and Galloway has continued to rise this year

Spending on locum doctors in Dumfries and Galloway is already more than £2m higher than it was at the same stage of the last financial year.

Costs already total nearly £6m for the past seven months.

The region also has the highest vacancy rate for senior medical staff in Scotland, with 20 consultant posts currently unfilled.

NHS Dumfries and Galloway said it was doing everything possible to recruit permanent staff.

Medical director Dr Angus Cameron said more doctors needed to be trained to address what was a national shortage.

'Significant problem'

He said that in the meantime the health board had no option but to foot the bill for temporary cover.

"We certainly do have a significant problem at the moment," he admitted.

"We have 20 consultant posts that are vacant - they are of course covered by locums or by doctors who have come back in after retirement - but there are still 20 posts that we need to fill.

"That is slightly more than 20% of the consultant workforce so that is highly significant."

He said there were nationwide and local reasons for the problem.

"There are national shortages of consultants in some specialities," he said.

"Dumfries and Galloway is also small so we have small departments.

"One of the problems with recruiting is that if you have got small departments you are one of three and you are on call every third night for the rest of your life," he said.

Dr Cameron said that compared with going to a big hospital in Glasgow where you might be on call "every two weeks for the rest of your life".

"So why would you want to come to Dumfries and Galloway?" he asked.

"That's a big problem for us."

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