Scotland's hard-pressed NHS gets welcome reinforcements but long-term solution to staffing crisis is still required – Scotsman comment

The announcement that hundreds of extra nurses and support staff are on their way to the front lines of Scotland’s hard-pressed NHS will come as welcome news to those who have worked through the past two years.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf visits Liberton Hospital in Edinburgh earlier this year (Picture: Peter Summers/Getty Images)
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf visits Liberton Hospital in Edinburgh earlier this year (Picture: Peter Summers/Getty Images)

Nurses’ and doctors’ representatives have repeatedly made clear that staff, already over-stretched before Covid, have been struggling to cope with the increased demands placed upon them.

So, hopefully, the arrival of 191 nurses from countries including India and the Philippines, with deals in place to hire a further 203, and more than 1,000 support staff will make a real difference.

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However, what is required is a long-term solution. Staff numbers may be at record levels, as Health Secretary Humza Yousaf pointed out, but the important consideration is whether there are enough doctors and nurse relative to their workload, which has been increasing as our population ages, rather than the past.

And, as Scottish Labour's Jackie Baillie pointed out, “raiding the healthcare systems of other nations” is no substitute for training the required number of healthcare staff in Scotland.

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So while the Scottish Government’s announcement is a necessary and welcome stop-gap measure, it is no more than that.

Resolving the ongoing NHS vacancy crisis would mean the caring professions were not constantly rushed off their feet and would be able to take the time, as they see fit, to care for their patients in not just a clinical way, but a compassionate one.

And that would help restore the kind of job satisfaction which was once a hallmark of the NHS, boosting staff morale and also the numbers of people wanting to join what remains a most-valued institution.

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