Strength in Numbers dedicated to my late mother Kay

Locum doctor paid £11,000 for a weekend shift: ‘Outrageous’ sum spent on NHS consultant to be on call… who wasn’t even required to work

  • Hired on rate equivalent to £452 an hour to do a bank holiday weekend 
  • County Durham trust paid £10,852 for services of locum consultant
  • Doctor was on call to respond to emergencies but none took place
  • It will raise more concerns about NHS waste and temporary workers

A locum doctor was paid £11,000 by an NHS trust for a single weekend shift – the highest sum on record. Despite being hired on a rate equivalent to £452 an hour to do a bank holiday weekend, the doctor was not even required to work.

County Durham and Darlington Foundation Trust paid £10,852 for the services of the locum consultant from the agency Locum Vision, according to Freedom of Information disclosures. The doctor, who covered three 9am to 5pm shifts last Easter, was on call to respond to emergencies but none took place. The huge pay packet will raise more concerns about NHS waste and reliance on temporary workers. Trusts have spent £3.3billion in the past financial year on agency staff, contributing to a huge deficit.

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Hospital: Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (above) flew in a doctor more than 4,000 miles from India to cover a weekend, while an agency nurse in Dumfries and Galloway was also paid £1,400 to work a single shift

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Locum doctor: Why shouldn’t I sell my labour to the highest bidder? – By Jim Higginson

I am a locum tenens: a place-holder. I get calls and emails – scores every day – telling me that places are vacant in local emergency departments. And so, when I choose, I climb into the skin of an emergency medicine middle grade. That is, for a few days a month, I work in A&E. This skin isn’t my skin. I wear it because I get paid – well – to do so.

The recent news highlighting the rising national locum bill concentrates on the expense of locum consultants. In fact, most of the expenditure is on juniors and those, like me, of mid-level experience. I am not an emergency medicine trainee, and have never had formal A&E training: I’m training in  oral and maxillofacial surgery (maxfacs).

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Why shouldn’t a doctor, cowed and exhausted by a system designed to undermine and disempower, consider selling their labour to the highest bidder? Photograph: Tom Jenkins for the Guardian

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