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Full report: ITV Border exclusive on Cumbrian health service expenses

Figures obtained by ITV Border have found that the North Cumbria Health Trust spent 8 million pounds in the past year on temporary doctors.

The so called locums are being relied upon because the troubled trust is struggling to recruit experienced doctors.

The Freedom Of Information request also found that one consultant was being paid £158 an hour.

One local MP has branded the figures 'astonishing'.

The trust says it will cut the number of locums used by 50%.

John Bevir has this exclusive report:

Health figures "astonishing" says Carlisle MP

Figures obtained exclusively by ITV Border have found that the North Cumbria Health Trust spent £8 million in the past year on temporary doctors.

The Freedom Of Information request also found that one locum consultant was being paid £158 an hour.

Local MP John Stevenson has branded the figures as 'astonishing', but the trust says that recent recruitment issues are now improving.

The MP for Carlisle believes the drawn out merger process with the Northumbria Trust has created the problems:


Exclusive: Doctor in Cumbria paid £158 per hour

NHS Credit: PA

Figures obtained exclusively by ITV Border have revealed that the troubled North Cumbria NHS Hospital Trust spent £8 million on locum doctors in the past year.

The Freedom Of Information request found that in the past three years 527 of the temporary medical staff have been employed at the hospitals in Carlisle and Whitehaven.

The highest paid locum consultant was paid £158 an hour.

The figures have been branded as 'astonishing' by West Cumbrian MP Jamie Reed, who is also a Labour shadow health minister.

He believes that unless the problem is dealt with swiftly, "it will make the sustainability of services even harder".

In the past three years, the expenditure on locum doctors has varied wildly, with a significant rise in the past year.

North Cumbria NHS Trust expenditure on locum doctors:

2010 – 2011: £5.8 million

2011 – 2012: £4.95 million.

2012 – 2013: £7.96 million

Although total expenditure on locum doctors has risen, the hourly rates have actually fallen.

Highest hourly rates of pay for locum doctors:

2011 - £158.13 – Consultant Dermatologist.

2012 - £143.75 – Consultant Radiologist.

2013 - £112.95 – Consultant Gastro Medicine.

The trust are expected to comment on the figures later today.

Council promise to implement changes

The council has promised to implement a number of changes to provide better leadership and financial management.

It has pledged to restructure the social work services management team and has agreed to set up an internal but independent group to scrutinise social services from now on.

Other measures include cost control procedures, retraining of managers in organising budgets and better use of information systems.

Managers will also be told to communicate better with social workers.

Auditors reveal 'several flaws and weaknesses'

The independent audit by Price Waterhouse Cooper conducted last year showed a number of problems.

Auditors uncovered several flaws and weaknesses including spending plans being set based on historic and unreliable information and ineffective team co-operation between the social work director John Alexander and his managers.

The report also highlighted concerns that there were only three people from finance monitoring 50people with budget responsibilities.

Dumfries and Galloway council admit 'serious problems'

Dumfries and Galloway Council headquarters Credit: ITV News Border

Dumfries and Galloway Council has admitted serious problems in its social work department after a report highlighted concerns over its financial management.

The audit found its budget has been mismanaged leading to a huge overspend.

The projected overspend is £760,000, and it would have been more but councillors had already agreed earlier to an extra £600,000.

Accountancy technicians will be brought in to help sort out the problem, either from the council's own finance department or an external consultant.


Councillors meet to discuss social work spending in D&G

Councillors will meet to discuss the financial management of social services in Dumfries and Galloway.

Members of the Council's Social Work Committee will be presented with a report compiled by external auditors, which revealed a series of failings.

The investigation was carried out following worries about a series of overspends and local MP Russell Brown says the department isn't fit for purpose.