NHS Lothian spends nearly £7 million on outsourcing radiology services to private companies in past five years
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Health bosses in Lothian have spent nearly £7 million outsourcing radiology services to private companies in the past five years, figures show.
Data released to the Scottish Labour Party under Freedom of Information legislation revealed that across Scotland, NHS boards have paid a total of £46.3 million outsourcing radiology between 2018/19 and 2022/23. NHS Lothian spent £6,971,066.
Lothian’s bill for using the private sector rose by 54 per cent over the period – from £1,001,717 in 2018/19 to £1,543,694.00 in 2022/23. Nationally the increase was 78 per cent, taking the total spend last year to £12.25 million. A previous report by the Royal College of Radiologists (RCR) estimated that the cost of outsourcing was just £3.5 million in 2013–14.
Scottish Labour health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said Scottish ministers had failed to heed previous warnings from the RCR about soaring outsourcing costs amid staffing shortages. In 2018, the RCR said patients were "increasingly adversely impacted by radiology workforce shortages", with services "buckling because there are simply not enough radiologists to sustain current provision".
Ms Baillie labelled the figures a “scandal” and said they exposed the SNP’s mismanagement of the NHS budget and disastrous workforce planning. She said: “While our NHS is stretched to breaking point, eye-watering sums of money are being handed over to private companies to plug staffing gaps. This is the cost of 16 years of disastrous workforce planning and financial mismanagement under the SNP.
“Experts have been sounding the alarm on this growing workforce challenges for years, but their warnings have been ignored – and now things are at crisis point. Humza Yousaf and his Health Secretary Michael Matheson need to take urgent action to address the recruitment crisis in the NHS and end this scandal.”