Scottish Labour has revealed the growing costs to the NHS of the increase in the number of doctors and nurses working beyond their contractual hours.
In 2011-12, doctors worked almost 80,000 hours beyond their contracted hours – at a total cost of almost £11 million.
In the first six months of 2012-13, over 40,000 additional hours were recorded – at a cost of almost £6.5 million. This is clearly on course to be substantially higher than 2011-12.
In 2011-12, nurses worked over 1.2 million hours beyond their contracted hours – at a total cost of over £18 million.
In the first six months of 2012-13, almost 700,000 hours of overtime had been accumulated – at a cost of over £10.5 million. This is also on course to be substantially higher than last year.
Local Scottish Labour MSP, Jackie Baillie MSP, says: ‘These figures show that our nurses and doctors are working harder than ever, with fewer resources.
They reflect the fact that there are 2,500 fewer nurses and midwives in Scotland than when the SNP came to power.
‘The longer our doctors and nurses work, the more likely they are to make mistakes.
‘I am concerned that health boards are failing to recruit the right number of staff they need.
‘In cost terms, when you rely on overtime, you also end up paying more.
‘In the first 6 months of this year alone, nurses have worked over a quarter of a million extra hours at a cost of almost £11 million – and that’s before the annual winter strain takes its toll.
‘This can’t make sense financially.
‘When you consider that more than half of the health boards have an underlying budget deficit, these figures show that our NHS is being run on a month-to-month basis, without the strategic oversight needed for making sensible decisions.’
There is inevitably a political kick in mnaking such figures known – wiht Jackie Baillie saying: ‘These spiralling costs and nursing cutbacks took place under Nicola Sturgeon’s watch. This is her legacy.’
It is fair to note that Ms Sturgeon’s successor at Health, Alex Neil, has appears to be coasting along, less than fully in charge of his brief.