Scottish NHS boards spend £31m on agency junior doctors

More than £30m has been spent on junior doctors through agencies to plug gaps between 2019-20 and 2022-23.

Scottish NHS boards spend £31m on agency junior doctors PA Media

NHS boards in Scotland have spent more than £31m on agency junior doctors in the past four years, new figures show.

Statistics released through freedom of information legislation to Scottish Labour showed £31,052,819 had been spent on junior doctors through agencies to plug gaps between 2019-20 and 2022-23.

The highest spender, according to the figures, was NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde – the biggest health board in the country – followed by NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Grampian.

Meanwhile, NHS Borders spent just over £36,000 during the same time period.

The figures come as a planned strike due to take place this week was suspended after the Scottish Government made a fresh offer to junior doctors.

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said: “While junior doctors were forced to fight tooth and nail for fair pay and conditions, the SNP has been frittering away millions plugging staffing gaps.

“The SNP’s disastrous workforce planning has left NHS staff exhausted and demoralised and left taxpayers with a £31m bill.

“A fair pay deal is essential, but it is the bare minimum the Scotland’s dedicated NHS workers deserve.

“We need real workforce planning and an end to the crisis wreaking havoc in our hospitals.”

The deal struck between BMA Scotland and Health Secretary Michael Matheson amounting to a 12.4% increase in the next year.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “Our current pay offer is the best in the UK and the largest investment in junior doctor pay in the last 20 years.

“On top of that, last year we recruited a record number of trainee doctors, and the number of available medical school places at Scottish universities has increased by 67% since 2016.

“This investment and the significant commitments we have given around pay and contract reform are an illustration of how much we value junior doctors, and we are determined to ensure that Scotland is one of the best places in the world for junior doctors to work and train.

“Our National Workforce Strategy for health and social care, published in March 2022 sets out our long-term commitments to ensure that we have a skilled and sustainable workforce, with attractive career choices, where all are valued for the work they do.”