Health & Social Services (Northern Ireland)
The use of locum doctors by Northern Ireland hospitals
- Corporate Author:
- Northern Ireland Northern Ireland Audit Office
- TSO (The Stationery Office)
This report examines the effectiveness of management arrangements over the use of locum doctors in Northern Ireland hospitals. 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 hours. In the four years from 1 April 2007 to 31 March 2011, hospital medical costs were £1,360 million of which £109 million was paid to cover short term absences or vacancies within hospitals. Around £74 million (two thirds) of this was paid to external recruitment agencies while the remaining third (£35 million) was paid to doctors employed by Trusts but working hours additional to those stated in their contract. The cost of locum doctors equates to around 8 per cent of overall spending on medical staff. If it were possible for all Trusts to contain locum costs to the regional average of 8 per cent, then over £5 million might be saved each year. Information on the usage and cost of hospital locum doctors is not comprehensive. The report found inconsistency in payment arrangements for locums, pre-employment checks are not always formalised and the appraisal of locums' performance is often overlooked. Although the use of locum doctors allows hospitals to maintain appropriate and safe staffing levels, it also creates potential risks. Locum staff may be unfamiliar with a hospital or its procedures and may not be in a position to offer continuity of care.
|Format||Paperback||Published||04 Jul 2011|
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