'A locum doctor was paid nearly £6,000 to be on duty over a weekend, the Daily Mail has discovered.
The huge sum – for a consultant working from home who was on call to field queries from junior staff and see emergency patients only if needed – comes despite a crackdown on fees.
The hospital concerned could not confirm how many times, if at all, the specialist eye doctor had come in or indeed answered their phone.
But research by the British Medical Association has found that half of consultants on call for a weekend shift are not needed to go in at all.
Health officials have launched a crackdown on ‘rip-off’ locum rates in order to divert the money into patient care.
Since April 2016, hospitals have been told to cap fees at £75 an hour, although they can be slightly higher for weekend and overnight work. But figures obtained by the Mail for 2018 show a number of doctors were able to negotiate rates of at least £200 an hour to cover unpopular shifts at nights and weekends.
Freedom of information requests showed a second doctor was paid nearly £2,500 a shift. That is the equivalent of an annual salary of £650,000, six times that of a full-time hospital consultant. The highest fee went to a specialist eye doctor at Kettering General Hospital in Northamptonshire, who earned £5,760 for a ‘weekend on call’ shift.
The hospital’s dedicated eye ward and outpatients clinic are both closed at the weekend and the consultant would only have been needed in an emergency.
The second doctor, a trauma and orthopaedic consultant, was paid £312 an hour for an eight-hour shift at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham.'
Read more: Doctor paid £6,000 for a weekend on call: NHS is still handing over staggering fees for locums who cover unpopular shifts despite a crackdown
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