The services of locum agencies are crucial to the running of NHS services in Wales, it has been revealed.According to figures cited in the Western Mail, health boards are spending up to £1 million a month on locum medics to help meet the needs of patients.
The publication based the figures on those obtained by shadow health minister Andrew RT Davies.According to the statistics, the demand for such professionals is greatest in west Wales at present.It was revealed that more than 300 locum medics were performing roles in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan, as well as Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion, in June this year.The data also showed that Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board spent £654,600 on locums during the month.
This was more than the £80,400 spent by Powys Health Board in June, suggesting the demand for staff supplied by locum agencies was greater in former organisation, which provides healthcare services to a population of around 600,000 in Bridgend, Neath Port Talbot and Swansea.Meanwhile, Hywel Dda Health Board had 161 locums during the 30-day period, although it was unable to supply details concerning the amount spent on such workers.
Director of workforce and organisational development at the organisation Janet Wilkinson remarked: “The shortage of middle, junior and specialist doctors is an issue affecting the NHS across the UK and many organisations … use locum and agency staff to maintain safe services.
“Hywel Dda Health Board is particularly affected as the rural geography and existence of relatively small acute hospitals means there is less flexibility for internal cover and collaboration.”She went on to note that the board is participating in recruitment fairs and the all-Wales junior doctor review, which has been established to analyse issues such as recruitment, training schemes, rotas and working conditions.