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Locum pay raised by 30% to avoid out-of-hours ‘crisis’

GP locums are to be given a pay rise of 30% in an effort to avoid a ‘crisis’ in unfilled out-of-hours slots in Scotland.

Scotland on Sunday has reported that boards across the country were offering hourly rates of up to £103.74 an hour as they were struggling to find GPs willing to cover weekend and evening shifts.  

The BMA said that this increase in locum rates has ‘averted an immediate crisis’.

NHS Ayrshire and Arran increased its rates by up to 30%, paying locums on daytime weekend shifts a rate of £103.74, an increase from £74.10. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has increased its weekend out-of-hours rates to £90 an hour.

A statement from NHS Ayrshire and Arran said: ‘NHS Ayrshire & Arran makes every effort to ensure that [NHS Ayrshire Doctors on Call] rotas are staffed by our local GPs. As of 18 July we have six vacant shifts for the rest of July, and 52 vacant shifts for August. Local GPs returning from annual leave and newly qualified doctors will be available to take these shifts. We are therefore confident that we will fill our rotas. We have no plans to use doctors from overseas and do not expect to use locum agency staff to provide cover during July or August.’

An NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde spokesperson said: ‘Inevitably over the peak summer period many GPs are on holiday, their day time practice work is therefore more pressurised and there are less GPs available to volunteer to provide out of hours cover.

‘In order to maintain this important service, which is essential to the smooth running of emergency care, we have agreed a short term hourly rate for weekends until the end of the holiday period.’ 

Dr Alan McDevitt, chair of the Scottish GPC, welcomed the move by the health trusts. He told the Scotsman on Sunday: ‘It would seem that for the moment the immediate crisis has been averted.

‘The rates had been fixed since 2004 so by changing them they have got more people interested. We still have to look at the long-term out-of-hours services and there is a review on unscheduled care going on at the moment which is looking at A&E and GP services. We are part of that process to make sure that services are fit for the future and sustainable in the long-term.’