We launched our probe after it emerged crisis-hit NHS Grampian forked out more than £5,000 for a doctor to travel from India to cover a weekend shift in its A&E department.
Following a Freedom of Information request, eight of Scotland’s 14 health boards admitted to using staff from elsewhere in the UK or overseas.
NHS Lanarkshire spent the most on foreign cover; a staggering £1,269,030 in the two years to September 30.
But it was health bosses in the Western Isles who offered the highest rate, paying one Cardiff-based consultant more than £11,300 for 11 shifts.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and NHS Lothian – the country’s two biggest health boards – along with NHS Highland and NHS Ayrshire & Arran refused to provide details.
Scotland’s NHS is in crisis, and the SNP are in denial of the extent and severity of the problems, this is just one more example
Lanarkshire’s eye-watering spend saw medical staff fly in from Australia, Burma, Canada, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Nigeria, Pakistan and Poland.
In the Western Isles, a total of £554,910 was spent on wages and expenses for 18 medics – including one from Spain and another from Hungary.
The Hungarian, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon, was paid £97,721 for less than four months’ work – the equivalent of £857 a day.
NHS Orkney revealed it spent £154,549 in wages and £6,301 in expenses to bring in four consultants, including one from Poland and one from Hungary.
Their shifts spanned 182 days in total, meaning the health board paid the employees an average of £883 a day.
Shetland admitted to bringing in staff based outwith Scotland on 22 occasions, Tayside on five occasions, Borders on less than five occasions, and Dumfries & Galloway twice.
Despite drafting in cover from India, Grampian health board admitted that it did not record where any of its staff are based.
Forth Valley and Fife said they did not recruit staff from other countries.
The figures come just days after it emerged that NHS Highland is spending £36,000 on bus adverts and billboards to tempt doctors from Leeds and Liverpool to work in some of its more remote and rural communities.
The adverts, which feature a series of idyllic landscapes in the Highlands, including Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness, and the Old Man of Storr, on Skye, entice candidates with the words: “Your career. If you’re taking a short term view, make it a spectacular view.”
Last night, Scottish Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw said: “This is the Scottish Government paying the price for years of complacency and shoddy forward planning on health.
“With all the capacity we have for training nurses and other medical staff, we should not have to desperately depend on other parts of the world to deal with our shortcomings.
“Everyone understands there will be the odd example of flying someone in for an occasional circumstance.
“But the scale of these costs are shocking, and shows just how poorly the SNP has run our NHS.”
Similarly, Dr Richard Simpson, Labour’s shadow public health minister, said the findings were “an indictment” of the SNP’s workforce planning.
Accusing health secretary Alex Neil of slashing various key medical posts, he added: “Whilst – under pressure – these cuts have been partially reversed, this U-turn shows just how chaotic the SNP’s workforce planning in our NHS has become.
“Scotland’s NHS is in crisis, and the SNP are in denial of the extent and severity of the problems, this is just one more example.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said it was “actively tackling” the issue by creating staff banks to provide appropriately trained staff at agreed NHS pay rates.
She said staffing levels had increased under the SNP’s leadership and added: “We are clear that health boards must ensure they have the correct staffing levels are in place to deliver safe patient care. It is crucial that they do so in a sustainable way, ensuring that cover is in place for periods of high demand, or when staffing is reduced due to sickness.”