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Medical and dental locum spend


Agency locum doctors and dentists are used by NHS Boards to support the workforce by providing additional temporary capacity. The annual expenditure on locums includes those who are hired through private agencies.

Data are sourced from NHSScotland's Finance Platform. They are extracted, quality assured and provided to NES by NHS National Services Scotland for the financial year. 

What data are published

Medical and dental locum spend was first reported in June 2018 for the previous five financial years. Since then medical locum agency spend is updated annually in June release of the NHSScotland Workforce official statistics publication. Data reported are spend on agency locums by NHS Board. 


Locums who are directly employed by NHS Boards, such as those working on Locum Appointment in Service or Locum Appointment in Training grades, are not included.

Further information

Audit Scotland report on reducing expenditure on medical locums released in 2010:

Quality assurance and limitations

Quality assurance

A number of steps are in place to ensure that these data are reported accurately.

  1. Data are extracted from the NHSScotland Finance Platform by NHS National Services Scotland (NSS). These data are circulated to directors of finance within each NHS Board who agree and sign-off the figures for the financial year.

  2. Once these data has been agreed, NSS supply these data to NES by Excel who carry out a second phase of quality assurance. This involves: (i) checking for any errors in the return, and (ii) comparing figures with previous years. When required, NES clarify any large changes in data with data providers.

  3. Once data received are confirmed as accurate, these data are then combined with previous years data. Reporting software, PowerBI, is then refreshed so as to include the updated data. The report is then checked to ensure the values are shown accurately and any additional data intelligence are noted.

  4. These data are part of the two-week early release quality assurance process where the report is made available to NHS Boards to confirm as accurate. Communication with NHS Boards over this period allows us to confirm or update any of these data ahead of release to the public.


The data provided are at a high level and it is not possible to identify spend by other variables such as Specialty.