Increase in spend on locum doctors more evidence of crisis in A&E

John Healey has challenged the Health Secretary after more evidence emerged of a crisis in A&E.

Freedom of Information Act requests by the Labour Party showed spending on expensive locum doctors in A&E has gone up 60 per cent under the Coalition government, to £83 million.

At Rotherham hospital, spending has more than tripled in just three years. The cost of temporary cover in A&E was £284,000 in 2009/10 but went up to £1m in 2012/13.

In Barnsley it rose from £369,000 in 2009/10 to £859,000 just two years later.

The Wentworth & Dearne MP and former shadow health secretary told Jeremy Hunt in Parliament yesterday that the crisis in A&E and increasing spend on locums was entirely of the government’s making.

He said: “Ministers have been warned about cuts to elderly care and letting GPs off the hook on office hours and opening in the evenings and at weekends, and about the increasing costs of locum staff.

“They have been warned but they have not acted.

“What will the Secretary of State do now, late as it is, to ensure that A&E has enough doctors to see patients safely through the winter?”

Afterwards, Mr Healey said the figures should be a wake-up call to the government to get a grip on the crisis in A&E and make sure there are enough doctors to see us through winter.

He said: “The government have pushed through a huge internal reorganisation that has cost the NHS £3 billion and at a stroke shifted attention away from the front-line to the back-office.

“They’re also forcing more older people into hospital when they could be cared for at home, because of the deep cuts they are making to local councils, who are having to scale back social care.”