Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has today said that the Scottish Government cannot sit back and wait for the NHS staffing crisis to fix itself after new statistics showed an increasing shortage of nursing staff and consultants.
Official statistics released today show consultant vacancies are up 1% compared to a year earlier, rising to 8.5%, with nearly half of current medical consultant vacancies lying empty for more than six months.
The ISD Scotland figures also show 5.2% of nursing and midwifery posts were vacant, with nearly 1000 posts lying empty for 3 months or more – 350 more than at the same point a year earlier.
Commenting Mr Cole-Hamilton said:
“We need to see the NHS recruitment crisis brought to an end but these figures show that the SNP are letting it deteriorate.
“What makes this situation worse is that it was entirely avoidable. We have seen shoddy planning such as only looking five years ahead when it takes seven years to train a doctor. Staffing isn’t keeping up with demand and posts are lying vacant for months on end.
“This is having a knock on effect on the quality of care provided to patients and the staff under pressure to provide cover. Over the summer it was revealed that nurses feel patient care has been compromised by staff shortages. Audit Scotland uncovered millions being paid to agency staff and confirmed Nicola Sturgeon's decision to cut training places has come back to bite.
"The pressure on our hardworking NHS staff is reaching breaking point. The SNP Government cannot just cross their fingers and hope things improve. Ministers need to take the pressure off staff by giving them the support and resources they need and delivering the sustainable workforce our health service requires.”