Almost £17,000 a day is being spent by local hospitals, including South Tyrone, plugging chronic medical staff shortages, it has been revealed.
The Southern Health Trust, which covers the South Tyrone area, spend a staggering £6.1m paying for locum doctors and dentists last year, according to figures revealed by the Department of Health at the Northern Ireland Assembly.
However, the figure was dwarfed by the agency bill for the Western and Belfast Trusts, which came in at £12.9m and £15.1m, respectively.
The lowest bill, £4.4m, was incurred by the South Eastern Trust.
Kevin McAdam from the Unite union said there was a total lack of planning.
“It is an absolute disgrace that workforce planning is not carried out effectively at department or trust level,” he said. “Short-term cuts are creating crises which can only be filled by agency staff. Departments are making cuts to show cost savings on paper, but are then bringing in agency staff, which ultimately cost more. In trying to save money, they actually cost themselves money. It is nothing short of a scandal.”