Johnstone calls for greater access to medical training as figures show sharp rise in vacancies for hospital consultants

Alison Johnstone MSP, Health spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, today (5 Dec) called for greater access to medical training after new figures showed a sharp rise in vacancies for hospital consultants, with more than 250 posts lying empty for at least six months.

Alison said:

"It is alarming that the number of vacant consultant posts have increased by 11 per cent in the last year, and almost 60 per cent of all consultant vacancies have been vacant for more than six months.  This puts intolerable pressure on existing clinical staff and risks compromising high quality care for patients. Added to that, many European doctors who have made their home in Scotland are considering leaving because of the Tories’ Brexit disaster.

"Coupled with serious staff shortages in general practice, it is clear that medical recruitment is just not keeping pace with patients' needs.  We are simply not training enough doctors in Scotland to staff our health service in the long term.  I believe we must take significant action to increase the number of training places in medical schools at Scottish Universities, and open up access to the medical profession to students from a wider range of backgrounds.  

"Last year, researchers from Dundee University found that the vast majority of students at Scotland's medical schools in previous years come from the most privileged backgrounds: 86 per cent had parents in the highest earning professions, while less than 5 per cent came from the least affluent 20 per cent of post codes in the country.  We simply can't afford to exclude talented students from less affluent families from medical training while we are so desperately short of GPs and consultants in Scotland."