Overtime bill soars in face of NHS cuts, says Labour

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The NHS faces a growing bill for overtime payments in Scotland as staff cuts mean doctors and nurses have to work longer, it is claimed.

Scottish Labour said figures showed that millions of pounds were being spent to pay staff working longer than their contracted hours. The party said this was due to massive cuts in nursing and midwifery staff seen in recent years as health boards struggle to balance their books.

But the Scottish Government questioned the figures.

The figures, obtained from Freedom of Information requests to health boards, showed that in 2011/12, doctors worked almost 80,000 hours beyond their contractual hours at a total cost of almost £11 million.

In the first six months of 2012/13, over 40,000 hours had been accumulated, at a cost of almost £6.5m, putting it on course to be higher than last year, Scottish Labour said. In 2011/12, nurses worked over 1.2 million hours beyond their contractual hours at a total cost of over £18m.

In the first six months of 2012/13, almost 700,000 hours of overtime had been accumulated, at a cost of more than £10.5m, which also meant it could exceed costs for the previous year,

Scottish Labour MSP Jackie Baillie said: “These figures show that our nurses and doctors are working harder than ever, with fewer resources and reflects the fact that there are 2,500 fewer nurses and midwives in Scotland than when the SNP came to power. The longer our doctors and nurses work, the more likely they are to make mistakes.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Our figures show that in 2012 nurses worked less than six hours overtime each at a cost of £122. For the same period medical staff worked four hours overtime at a cost of £179.

“All territorial health boards across Scotland are seeing an increase in services funding over the next two years and will see a 3.3 per cent funding boost next year to “9.1 billion – that’s 1.3 per cent above the rate of inflation.”