HOSPITAL consultants are being treated to four-star hotels and paid £1,500 a day to work shifts at overstretched hospitals, it has been revealed.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, the country’s largest health board, forked out the “incredible” sum for an anaesthetist to provide overnight cover at a cancer centre and hospital.
The on-call consultant was drafted in to reduce staffing shortages at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre and Gartnavel General Hospital.
They were also provided with a room at the nearby Pond Hotel – which can cost up to £122 a night.
The weekly agency bill, which adds up to more than £10,000, has been criticised by politicians and trade unions who say the money could be “better spent” elsewhere.
It comes just a month after it was revealed another NHS board paid an agency psychiatrist over £19,000 for one week’s work.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has slammed the £1,500 figure.
She said: “The Scottish Government must look at this as a matter of urgency.
“It’s an incredible fee by anyone’s standards and the money spent trying to fix this mistake is money taken away from other areas of healthcare like drugs or operations.”
Tom Waterson, chairman of Unison’s health committee, agreed.
“It’s not difficult to think of ways in which this money could have been better spent within the health service,” he said.
Theirs is the latest criticism to be aimed at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde following the opening of the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital earlier this year.
The hospital, which cost almost £850m and is among the largest health facilities of its kind in Europe, was described by some patients as a “war zone”.
Speaking about the £1,500 per shift payment to doctors, an NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde spokesman said: “Services in our hospitals across the city, including Gartnavel General Hospital, have taken part in a major restructuring process this summer.
“As a result of changes in anaesthetic training, we have had to provide full consultant cover at Gartnavel General Hospital overnight in the short term. We are working to put in place a long term sustainable alternative.
“The out of hours consultant is paid at a locally agreed rate, consistent with a rate paid by other boards, and is provided suitable accommodation.
“It’s important to reiterate that we would never implement any change that puts the safety of our patients’ at risk or which do not have clinical support.”
Just last month it was revealed that an agency psychiatrist was paid £19,000 by the NHS for one week’s work.
The consultant psychiatrist earned an astonishing £19,305.22 for 40 hours on duty plus the rest of the week on call with the NHS Western Isles.
The figures mean the board paid the unnamed medic £483 per hour based on the 40 hours definitely worked.
Campaign groups for patients and taxpayers described the bill as “extortionate” and called on managers to “get on top of” their staff planning.
A spokeswoman for the NHS Western Isles said: “When a gap in service arises unexpectedly, e.g. as a result of sickness absence, we have to put cover in place urgently.
“Although we cannot comment on specific cases, NHS Western Isles’ policy is that agency staff are only used when we have exhausted all other means of obtaining staff to maintain a safe service.”