Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Cost of locum GPs in Tayside: How much has the health board paid for temporary doctors?

How much has NHS Tayside paid for locums?
How much has NHS Tayside paid for locums?

The cost of paying for locum doctors in five NHS Tayside surgeries has been revealed.

Data obtained under freedom of information legislation shows the wage bill paid out by NHS Tayside for temporary GPs in surgeries run by them has risen over the last three years.

It follows news Ryehill and Friockheim health centres could be facing potential closure because of a shortage of GPs.

MSP Maurice Golden – who obtained the figures under FOI – says he wants the Scottish Government to address the rising costs.

Friockheim Health Centre in the Westgate could be forced to close due to a shortage of GPs.

The results show how much was paid out across the five GP practices which are currently run by NHS Tayside.

That includes Whitfield, Maryfield and Lochee practices in Dundee, and Brechin and Abbey practices in Angus.

What is a locum?

A locum doctor is one who temporarily fills a rota gap within a hospital, clinic or practice.

This can often be on a relatively short-term basis, although in the healthcare sector, it’s not uncommon for locums to hold their post for more extended periods.

A locum doctor can be on a temporary contract with the NHS or can be an agency locum which means being paid an hourly rate through an agency.


Mr Golden says: “Some of the costs involved here are eye-watering and patients are losing out by not being able to build a relationship with a local GP.

“NHS Tayside is strapped for cash and the need to find hundreds of thousands each year for stop-gap GPs is only making things worse.”

But what do the figures show?

Maurice Golden MSP
Maurice Golden MSP. Photo by Richard Gardner/Shutterstock.

In the last three years:

  • The health board has spent a total of £1.35 million on locums across the five surgeries
  • That includes £580,000 last year alone for temporary doctors
  • That was an increase from 2019-2020 when they spent £430,000
  • In 2018-2019 they paid £344,000.

Hourly rate

Last year, £267,000 of the total spend by NHS Tayside was on agency locums.

It was revealed at least one locum GP was paid £171.80 per hour when they were hired in 2019-20.

Last year’s hourly peak for a locum GP was £90 per hour.

National shortage

A spokesperson for NHS Tayside says all boards across Scotland face a shortage of GPs and Tayside is no exception.

But they add they’re taking steps to recruit and retain GPs and look at different ways of delivering care out in communities.

“NHS Tayside has a responsibility to ensure safe primary care services are provided for all patients.

There is a national shortage of GPs.

“On occasion, that may require the use of locum doctors in practices that NHS Tayside runs directly.

“Locum doctors are an important part of our healthcare resource and are particularly useful in covering short term absence.

“They are however only part of what is required to have an effective and sustainable general practice.”

Already a subscriber? Sign in