If there are hundreds of missing doctors, the public needs to know – leader comment

A consultant discusses matters with a patient
A consultant discusses matters with a patient
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According to figures obtained under Freedom of Information law by BMA Scotland, there are vacancies for a staggering 375 consultants in the NHS – enough to staff a large hospital. However, according to figures published by the NHS, the vacancy rate is about half that.

This stark discrepancy is partly explained by the removal of some vacancies from the official record, albeit temporarily, if they are not filled during the recruitment process and also by not including posts that have not been cleared to be advertised. A similar discrepancy was found by the BMA four years ago.

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The NHS has some serious problems, one of which is the high number of unfilled posts. If the Scottish Government and the NHS are to sort them out, then everyone needs to know exactly what the problems truly are. The NHS statistics were probably collated in good faith, but cynics will see an attempt to massage them. Whatever the reason, government and public bodies have a duty to ensure that we, the people, are given nothing but the unvarnished truth, however unpalatable or politically embarrassing.

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