Temping Docs

Hands up anyone who'd like to try a brain op

We've blogged before about how the NHS wastes vast amounts of money through employing expensive- and quite possibly poorly qualified- temps (eg here).

Now it turns out that hospitals are having to employ hundreds of locums to cover for shortages caused by the disastrous breakdown of the junior hospital doctor recruitment system (MTAS- see here).

Junior docs are supposed to start their new jobs next week (1 August), but thanks to the MTAS fiasco, 2,320 of the training posts are still unfilled. Many of the gaps are being filled by locums (eg see here for situation in Basingstoke).

Cost? We don't know. But the Northern Ireland Audit Office recently reported on the cost of locums there, and highlighted the case of a locum radiologist who was paid £240,000 for a year's work- well over three times the cost of a permanent radiologist.

The NI Auditor General also underlined how such waste had escalated over recent years:

"Expenditure on temporary and locum staff in Northern Ireland [rose] from £8.7m in 1999-00 to £31m in 2003-04."

A near fourfold increase.

Readers of BOM will be quite familar with this. The NHS spends around £1bn pa on temporary nurses alone.

More broadly- as we blogged here- the public sector is by far and way Britain's biggest employer of temps. Whereas government employs around 20% of Britain's workforce, according to the Office for Government Commerce, it accounts for 50% of the temporary labour market. The Gershon Review put the overall cost at £12bn pa.
The fundamental reason is shocking management. Flipflop strategy, fantasy planning, and gripless implementation- a surefire recipe for chaos and waste.
Temping docs are just one more symptom of a far, far deeper malaise.
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