Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesman, Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP today said staffing problems in the NHS seem to be getting worse, not better as new figures showed more than £20 million was paid in overtime to consultants in 2015/16.
Commenting on the figures, which represent a £6 million increase on 2013/14 figures, the Chair of BMA Scotland said a shortage of consultants was the issue and highlighted staffing problems in other parts of the NHS. Speaking to the BBC, Dr Peter Bennie said:
"The issue for us is - and has been for some time - that there are not enough consultants to do the job, and that actually applies across all branches of medicine, there is a similar problem with general practice.”
Commenting, Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said:
“Despite years of warnings, Scotland still does not have the number of consultants that we need and health boards are facing paying eye-watering overtime rates as a result. This is a long-standing problem that seems to be getting worse, not better. Whether we are talking about hospital consultants, GPs or other medical staff, too many parts of our NHS are facing a recruitment crisis.
“Overtime is important in giving health boards flexibility where staff are ill or short-term cover is required. But it should be a last resort, not a first option and certainly not a replacement for recruiting full-time staff. Ministers need to work with health boards to ensure that our NHS has the staff that it needs."