Thousands of foreign doctors are cashing in on the UK’s GP shortage by providing out-of-hours cover at expensive rates, it has emerged.
The Christmas period provided particularly rich pickings, with one Italian doctor paid £3,200 for five days work in Scotland.
British GPs won the right to hand back responsibility for out-of-hours patient care to the NHS in 2005.
Now local Primary Care Trusts are struggling to find locums to work weekends and cover holidays. Nearly half of Britain’s surgeries have turned to overseas doctors.
A spokesman for London-based Medical Transfer Services, which provides foreign medical staff to the NHS, told the Daily Mail: “Many German doctors fly here on Thursday and stay until Monday. It is easy for them to make £2,000 in a weekend.”
Doctors working emergency shifts can earn £100 per hour Monday to Friday, rising to more than £200 an hour on bank holidays. A night visit can rake in £125.
Germany is said to have provided 2,500 locums to the UK, Greece 2,000 and France 600. Many more have come from the former Eastern Bloc.