Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has today criticised the SNP's "slow and clumsy" handling of NHS workforce planning, as the Health Secretary revealed that the integrated health and social care workforce plan will now be delayed until the new year.
In response to a parliamentary question, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said the publication date for the plan is "likely to move from December to January 2019."
Her comments come just weeks after a key state of the health service report from the Auditor General identified significant workforce challenges facing the health service, including difficulties in staff recruitment and increases in sickness absence and staff turnover.
The previous iteration of this work, three National Health and Social Care Workforce Plans, were delayed by up to a year.
Responding Mr Cole-Hamilton said:
"The NHS is facing serious challenges in recruiting staff at every level. The Health Secretary talks about meeting stakeholders expectations. The most important stakeholders are patients and NHS staff and they will be baffled that, like its three predecessors, this plan is running late.
"The SNP must say now whether they consider the current level of staffing acceptable or admit there have been serious issues in their slow and clumsy handling of workforce planning.
"Scottish Liberal Democrats are demanding the Health Minister publish an annual report on workforce planning and lead an annual debate on it at Parliament. That would mean in future failings can be identified and rectified before it’s too late."