Hospital trust in top 10 of dearest doctors

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WEST Herts Hospitals NHS Trust spent the seventh highest amount on a doctor’s shift out of 83 hospital trusts who responded to Freedom of Information requests.

Bosses forked out £2,400 in 2010 to pay for a cardiologist to treat four cardiac patients during a single day’s work, the newly released figures from a national newspaper show.

A trust spokesman said: “The patients were seen by a trust doctor working overtime and not through an agency. The alternative would have been for them to have been seen privately at far greater cost to the taxpayer.”

She later explained that the work was done at 60 per cent of what it would have cost privately and was necessary to ensure the trust met its 18-week waiting list target.

The trust pays full-time cardiologists £90,000 per year.

But health campaigner Betty Harris, who is chairman of Dacorum Hospital Action Group, has described the overtime figure as “scandalous”.

She said: “I just do not think it’s good enough. I am appalled that much was paid even in 2010 – I just think it’s dreadful. Why were the four patients not sent to another cardiac hospital within the NHS?

“Surely that would have been cheaper than paying for private treatment or the doctor’s overtime.

“There are many questions West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust has to answer about this.

“I think they must be short of cardiologists when they have to pay them this much for overtime.”

A trust spokesman said: “The main reason for paying the overtime was because we thought it would be better for patients to be seen at their local hospital. We think patients prefer to be treated locally.”