An NHS Grampian boss has said the board is “at the mercy” of people setting staffing costs after it emerged £16 million was spent on locum doctors over the past year.
The health board’s annual performance report was discussed at a meeting yesterday.
In the document, the annual spend for locum doctors was revealed.
The health board spent £16 million on outside doctors to alleviate staffing pressures in 2018/19.
The report states the spend on locum doctors had remained largely the same as the year before.
Questioning the figure, board member Nick Passmore said: “I remember we took a specific decision to reduce that spending.
“Are we able to note down why this hasn’t happened?”
Acute medical director Paul Bachoo said: “We’re at the mercy of the markets.
“There are forces that we can’t control, and there are services that we unfortunately can’t switch off.
“If people don’t want to come here (to work) then we will need to look to other sources to ensure our services don’t suffer.
“We’re at the mercy of the people who set the prices, and until there is a national conversation around the pricing of locums, we have to pay.
“We have always put clinical services before costs, and that hasn’t changed, at least not to my knowledge.”
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The health board’s medical director Nick Fluck added: “We’d like to limit our reliance on locums.
“We’ve also hired 280 more members of staff across the board compared to last year.”
According to the report, NHS Grampian hit all three of its targets for the year ending March 31.
Spending a total of £1.125 billion, the health board spent almost £38m on infrastructure services. A total of £13.75m in “efficiency savings” were made in line with a Scottish Government decree.
The majority of savings were made from moving to cheaper drugs, which give the same outcome for patients.