Understaffed A&E units spent over £80 million on locum doctors in 2013, a figure that has risen by 60% over the past three years.
The information was obtained by Labour under the Freedom of Information Act, spurring some Labour MPs to criticise the government for their disorganised management of the NHS.
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham told the BBC:
“This government is guilty of gross mismanagement of the NHS. They are paying more for an A&E service which is getting worse by the week.”
Research by the College of Emergency Medicine has shown half of trainee posts are going unfilled, prompting concerns over a ‘recruitment crisis’ within A&E. As a result, A&E departments in England are forced to employ locum doctors who can cost up to £1,500 per shift, a figure four times higher than if they were able to fill a shift with permanent staff.
Conservative MP Dr Dan Poulter, the secretary of state for health, told the BBC that it is important the government focus on improving the work-life balance of A&E doctors in order to attract doctors back into this area of medicine.