Stand-in doctors have been paid millions to work at Sheffield’s adult A&E unit over the last three years, figures have revealed.
The statistics, obtained through a Freedom of Information request to Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, showed £3.8 million was spent on locum A&E medics at the Northern General Hospital from 2010 to 2013.
But the trust said locum spending at the emergency unit has decreased in recent years, and there are currently no vacancies for consultants on the ward.
In 2010/11, A&E locums cost the trust £1.8 million, up from nearly £512,000 the year before.
Then in 2011/12, spending went down to £1.09m, falling further to £925,085 in 2012/13.
Last year £4.8m was spent at the Northern General to create more space on accident and emergency in response to growing numbers of patients.
Dr David Throssell, the trust’s medical director, said: “We are very fortunate in Sheffield, because as well as having one of the busiest A&E departments in the NHS we are also a Major Trauma Centre, which is attractive to A&E consultants when they are looking for a career change or progression.
“We do not currently have any A&E consultant vacancies, and our use of locums has also reduced over recent years.”
Dr Throssell added: “We recently recruited additional consultants as part of the major expansion of A&E at the Northern General, and as many of our consultants spend most of their career with us, our turnover of senior doctors is relatively low compared to some other trusts.”
Nationally, spending on stand-in doctors has soared by 60 per cent in three years, from £52m in 2009/10 to £83m last year.
The problem is being blamed on junior doctors across the country being put off by the workload, long hours and low pay.
Locums include full-time doctors working extra shifts as well as those employed by agencies.
The FOI requests were submitted by the Labour Party.