7,000 complaints over Scots hospital staff levels

Concerns about staffing in Scotland’s hospitals have been raised with NHS bosses on more than 7,000 occasions in the last two years, figures have revealed.
Unfilled consultant posts have more than trebled. Picture: GettyUnfilled consultant posts have more than trebled. Picture: Getty
Unfilled consultant posts have more than trebled. Picture: Getty

Data released under Freedom of Information laws showed management had recorded a total of 7,253 concerns in 2013-14 and 2014-15.

The statistics were uncovered by the Liberal Democrats, who said most of the complaints came from health workers.

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Concerns about staffing in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde were raised on 2,050 occasions – although the health board said its recording system did not show if these were made by staff, patients or families of patients.

Liberal democrat health spokesman Jim Hume said: “These stark figures underline the pressure that NHS staff are under as a result of the failure of the SNP government to get to grips with the challenges facing our health service.”

Recent NHS statistics showed the number of consultant posts unfilled in hospitals has more than trebled in the last four years, with the current vacancy rate standing at 8.3 per cent.

In June 2011 the NHS reported that 127.9 whole-time equivalent (WTE) consultant posts were vacant, but by June this year that had risen to 447.5 WTE.

Of these, 188 WTE positions have been empty for at least half a year, a rise of 102 per cent on June 2014.

At the same time, the number of nursing and midwifery jobs that are vacant had increased by 391 WTE posts to 2,256 – giving a vacancy rate of 3.7 per cent.

Mr Hume said: “Doctors, nurses and other NHS staff work incredibly hard to keep us healthy. But they are simply not getting the support they need from ministers.

“Whether we are talking about the crisis in primary care and GP recruitment or high numbers of vacancies for hospital consultants, it seems that there is no part of our NHS that is not struggling to get the necessary number of staff in the right jobs. Plastering over the gaps in our health service and pretending everything is fine will simply not cut it.

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“These figures show hard-working NHS staff are constantly being asked to do more with less. There comes a point when this is simply not sustainable and that moment has now passed.”

Health secretary Shona Robison said: “The concerns of NHS staff are critically important. Under this government, NHS staff numbers have risen by over 10,000, with more doctors and nurses now delivering care for the people of Scotland.

“We also have record high numbers of GPs – including the most GPs per head of the population in the UK.

“To give people the high quality healthcare they deserve, we are investing in and supporting a highly skilled NHS workforce. Over the past year alone, this includes an additional 600 nurses and midwives.”