16,600 reports on NHS staff shortages in Scotland over 4-year period

There were 16,635 reports of concerns over staffing levels between 2013/14 and 2016/17. Picture: Getty
There were 16,635 reports of concerns over staffing levels between 2013/14 and 2016/17. Picture: Getty
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NHS workers reported concerns about staffing shortages on more than 16,600 occasions over the past four years, according to new figures gathered by the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

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Data uncovered through Freedom of Information showed that, across 11 Scottish health boards, doctors, nurses and other NHS workers registered 16,635 reports of concerns over staffing levels between 2013/14 and 2016/17.

A total of 4,120 reports were received in 2016/17, down from a high of 4,548 in 2014/15.

The Lib Dems said the statistics reflected “the failure of the SNP government to get to grips with the challenges facing our health service”.

A report published by auditors last year said the government must plan ahead better to “urgently address workforce issues” in the NHS.

Ministers have published the first two parts of the National Health and Social Care Workforce Plan, but have yet to publish part three.

Lib Dem health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “No one knows the condition of our NHS better than frontline staff and these new figures show they have been driven to register their concerns about staffing levels on thousands of occasions.

“They feel exposed as a result of the failure of the SNP government to get to grips with the challenges facing our health service.

“Nicola Sturgeon’s cuts to training places have come back to bite.

“Agency spending has more than doubled, there are hundreds of long-term nursing and midwifery vacancies and the pressure that is being put on the remaining staff is immense.”

He added: “Unfortunately, ministers’ belated workforce plan is already running months behind schedule.

“This raises serious questions about how long it will be before they finally have the right level and mix of staff in place.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “NHS staffing levels in Scotland are at a record high, backed by record investment. Our draft budget sets out a £400 million increase in health resource spending, taking it to a record high of over £13.1 billion and providing additional investment in frontline NHS Boards of 3.7%.

“This is enabling us to invest in the future of the NHS ensuring we have the right staff, with the right skills, in the right place. We recently announced the sixth consecutive rise in the number of nursing and midwifery training places which is expected to bring those in training to a record high of more than 12,000.

“Part 1 of workforce plan was published last June, Part 2 of the plan covering workforce planning in social care was published jointly with COSLA in December 2017. Part 3 of the workforce plan on primary care will be published early this year following the conclusion of the Scottish GMS contract negotiations.

“The plan will set out a range of approaches at national, regional and local level for developing multi-disciplinary teams in primary care.”

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