To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services what information is available about the amount of payments made to locums by health authorities; and if he has any plans to ensure that better value for money so spent is obtained.
In 1986–87, expenditure on directly employed locums and agency locums, as indicated by health authorities in their provisional accounts, was £39·7 million and £26·06 million respectively. These figures represent 3·46 per cent. and 2·27 per cent. of the total pay bill for medical and dental staff. Several health authorities are engaged in initiatives to reduce the proportion of spending on agency locums and we are monitoring carefully their progress.