Primary care trusts have spent at least £8.2m over the last three years paying 134 GPs who were suspended pending investigations into complaints about their conduct.

The figure was revealed through Freedom of Information requests made by the Liberal Democrats. Lib Dem health spokesman Norman Lamb said the system for investigating complaints needed to be speeded up urgently.

GPs who are suspended continue to receive 90 per cent of their salary. PCTs also need to fund the cost of locums to cover their workload, which will add to the £8.2m cost as that only accounts for GP salaries.

A quarter suspended for over a year

In total, 1,063 GPs were suspended between 2004 and 2008. In 57 per cent of cases the suspension lasted 12 months or less. But a quarter were suspended for between one and two years and a fifth were suspended for longer than two years. Fifty GPs were suspended for over four years.

Mr Lamb said: “These figures are scandalous. It is clear that something is going badly wrong with the way allegations against GPs are being handled. A system which is leaving doctors on suspension for over four years at taxpayers’ expense is not fit for purpose.  It is a staggering waste of money and unfair on doctors and patients.”

GPs suspended between 2004-2008
Duration of SuspensionNumber of GPsPercentage of total
up to 12 months60157
1 to 2 years25624
2 to 3 years 999
3 to 4 years575
4 to 5 years505
 Source: Liberal Democrat FOI requests to PCTs