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Health / Doctor reassures board that work is continuing on reducing locum spend

Gilbert Bain Hospital. Photo: Shetland News

WORK continues on reducing the reliance on expensive temporary staff in health care in Shetland, a meeting has heard.

Board member Dr Alex Armitage told a meeting of the isles’ health and social care partnership that one avenue being explored is trying to keep people in Shetland for the entirety of their GP training.

GP training usually lasts for three years.

Armitage said at a meeting of the integration joint board on Thursday that locum staff is “the biggest issue for our budgeting challenges”.

He said within acute services “there’s a lot of work going on” about trying to reduce expenditure on locums.

Part of this is trying to recruit GP trainers, he said, adding that there is also work done on trying to secure the contingency of surgical staffing.

It comes after the integration joint board approved its proposed budget for the 2022/23 financial year.

NHS Shetland will provide a ring fenced temporary staffing budget which will fund any overspends at the end of the year which are the direct result of locum arrangements.

The £58 million budget – which includes contributions from the NHS and Shetland Islands Council – is balanced, but a warning was made that it is still not “sustainable”.

The budget is an increase of around £5 million on the current one.

It also includes grant funding of nearly £2 million from Shetland Charitable Trust to go towards the costs of running rural care homes.