Leader: Little choice but to pay for doctors

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these are eye-watering amounts of money being paid to surgeons to help clear the waiting list backlog at our local hospitals.

It would take many people nearly a month to earn the £1200 that they are receiving for a single eight-hour shift.

And this is far from an isolated case. NHS Lothian has been paying exorbitant rates to medics to cover problem shifts in recent months. GPs have been offered £560 to work a single emergency department nightshift and consultants are being paid a staggering £1800 to be on call overnight in some particularly short-staffed units.

Is there any justification for these kind of pay rates that are so far beyond what most of us can ever dream of earning? Well, the short answer is that, right now, we have little choice. If we want to tackle the horrendous waiting lists that are seeing more than 5000 people wait nearly three months, or longer, for treatment in Lothian, then these medics are pretty much the only folk that can help.

We should in many ways be grateful to the seven surgeons who have taken home £1.5 million between them over the last year. Yes, they are being extremely well rewarded for their efforts, but without them working all the hours God sends how many more people would be facing unacceptably long waits for operations?

These are very highly skilled and dedicated individuals. Does anyone deserve £200,000 a year? Perhaps not. But a brain surgeon, for example, is surely more deserving of such riches than many others in the public sector who are taking home even bigger wages, including the boss of Lothian Buses.

These enormous payments are, however, yet another sign of how our NHS is creaking at the seams. We cannot go on simply relying on a handful of overworked specialists to keep the show on the road. But until we can find better ways of tackling rising waiting times we will all have to swallow it.