MORE than £500,000 was spent on hiring locum doctors to cover A&E at Queen Alexandra Hospital.
According to figures from the Labour Party released under Freedom of Information laws, the south west region average was £207,605 for the 2012/2013 financial year.
But in the same time frame, Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs QA hospital in Cosham, spent £537,615.
A trust spokesman said the figures it had supplied as part of the original inquiry may be misleading.
The PHT spokesman said: ‘The figures supplied as a part of the original FOI are somewhat misleading and includes additional work by our own consultants.
‘The actual figures for spend on external locums is now given as £179,317 for the year 2012/2013.’
The trust said that between:
· 2009-10, it spent £20,379 on locums – which are temporary doctors – and £58,368 including additional work by consultants.
· 2010-11, it spent £326,769 on locums, and £522,504 including additional work by consultants.
· 2011-12, it spent £339,213 on locums, and £593,252 including additional work by consultants.
· 2012-13, it spent £179,317 on locums, and £537,615 including additional work by consultants.
The trust spokesman added: ‘Figures for 2011 include a single locum that worked for an entire year as a part of the team. The sharp rise in locum spend reflects an increase in service provision and seven-day working.
‘We were keen to start this quickly to improve services and ran a recruitment drive for permanent staff in parallel to this. As can be seen, our locum spend for 2013 was down markedly and reflects our new substantive appointments.’
Syd Rapson was chairman of the board of governors for the trust during the dates given.
He said: ‘A lot of pressure was put on the hospital trust board by the governors to employ more full-time staff rather than taking on agency workers and people externally.
‘It’s more expensive for the trust, and they are stuck between a rock and a hard place.
‘As demand for A&E has increased, it’s hard to find full-time staff to work in the department.’