THE cost of paying doctors for temporary work at accident and emergency units has decreased in East Lancashire hospitals, bucking the national trend.

The total spent on employing temporary staff in A&E dropped from £823,405 in 2009/2010 to £450,021 in the last financial year.

Nationally, the amount spent on locum doctors in emergency departments rose 60 per cent in three years.

Data obtained by the Labour Party showed national spending on locums was £83.3 million last year, up from £52 million in 2009/10.

In the north west , the total spend almost doubled since 2009/2010, from £8,702,689 to the £16,412,417 spent in the last financial year.

Although spending on A&E locums has decreased in East Lancashire, spending on agency doctors has been a particular problem at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust (ELHT).

The trust, which is in special measures, missed several targets for temporary staffing costs last year, with about a third of the spend going on middle grade medics in recent months.

ELHT spends about £1.3 million on temporary staff each month, against a target of £800,000.

A locum doctor can earn £1,500 a shift, more than four times what it would cost to employ a permanent doctor.

Dr Georgina Robertson, consultant in emergency medicine said: “We have introduced middle grade rotation for doctors to make the job more attractive; we have recruited a long-term consultant which costs less than short term locums and have recruited junior clinicians and fellows which means more middle grade posts in the department, meaning more doctors seeing patients.”