The NHS has paid more than £16.5million for private security in the past five years including a bill for almost half a million pounds in NHS Highland.
The data has been disclosed in research conducted by the Scottish Conservative Party, which showed the Scotland-wide figure for last year was £3.91 million, continuing a rising trend down the years.
The statistics, obtained under Freedom of Information legislation, showed NHS Lothian paid almost £7m to PFI partners Consort as well as firms G4S and Profile.
Other health boards, like NHS Grampian, stated they didn’t use any private security at all, dealing with all such matters in-house.
NHS Lanarkshire recorded the second highest spend, with £5.19 million since 2013/14, largely thanks to PFI arrangements at Hairmyres and Wishaw hospitals.
NHS Highland recorded £0.34m, the majority of which was down to the New Craigs PFI contract.
A NHS Highland spokesman said: “Out of the cost of £340k over the past five years for the board up to 2017/18, £331k relates to New Craigs, £5k relates to other Highland HSCP sites and £3,525 relates to A&B. It should be noted that the New Craigs PFI security contract was stopped at the end of the 2017/18 financial year. “
Scottish Conservative chief whip Maurice Golden said: “The SNP never stops talking about how it despises the use of private companies when it comes to our NHS. Yet here we see, under its watch, spiralling costs when it comes to private security firms.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Any violence or aggression against NHS Scotland staff is unacceptable and we have policies in place to provide and continuously improve a safe working environment. We encourage all health boards to commit to supporting appropriate action against anyone who assaults a staff member, including criminal proceedings where appropriate.
“The majority of NHS services are provided by permanent NHS staff working on NHS contracts at NHS rates of pay.”