Scotland's NHS faces an increased staffing crisis it was claimed today, after new figures showed that nursing and midwifery vacancies have topped 4000 for the first time.
The NHS statistics also show that consultant vacancies have reached a record high, breaching the 500 mark. And of the 514 empty posts, more than half have vacant for more than six months.
Today’s report revealed there are 328 fewer nurses and midwives working in Scotland’s hospitals than in the previous quarter, with the 4013 vacancies representing a 27.7 per cent rise in just three months. The number of vacancies has been steadily climbing since 2011 when they stood at just 579.
Vacancies for medical and dental consultancy posts are also at their highest rates since September 2007 with a total of 8.8 per cent of posts vacant as of June 31, up from 7.6 per cent in the last year.
The figures come just days after an Audit Scotland report into the GP workforce crisis concluded that the SNP government had not estimated the impact of workforce pressures on primary care services.
Today Scottish Conservative health spokesperson Miles Briggs said the figures were the latest evidence of the SNP’s “dismal” workforce planning over more than a decade in power.
He added: “The nationalists cannot pretend that 4000 missing nurses and 500 vacant consultant posts – in a country the size of Scotland – is anything other than a full-blown crisis. For years Nicola Sturgeon has been warned about an ageing and expanding population, as well as a workforce who – on average – are edging ever-closer to retirement.
“Yet her government has done nothing, and now patients are suffering. This unacceptable position is also placing an intolerable burden on those NHS workers left behind, picking up an ever-increasing strain."
Scottish Labour’s health spokesperson, Monica Lennon added: “These figures are nothing short of dreadful. The workforce crisis in NHS Scotland is deepening, heaping pressure onto already overworked staff.
“The SNP government promised that things would get better for staff and patients under Jeane Freeman – it has only got worse. It is time for the Health Secretary to admit she has under-resourced our NHS and apologise to those patients and staff she has let down.
“Labour built the NHS and Scottish Labour will continue to hold the SNP to account on its dire record on the health service throughout this new parliamentary session.”
The Scottish Government has been approached for comment.