Johnstone concerned at rise in NHS vacancies

Alison Johnstone MSP, Health spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, today (6 June) expressed concern at a rise in NHS vacancies as figures show an increase in staff sickness and spending on agency workers.

New figures show that in March this year 7.4 per cent of consultant posts were vacant, a rise from 6.5 per cent in March last year. Of the 415.7 whole-time equivalent (WTE) vacancies, 204.3 were vacant for more than six months, an increase of 38.2 since last year.

Nursing and midwifery vacancies have increased by 27.5 per cent to 2,818.9 WTE. 670.6 were vacant for 3 months or more, an increase of 227.5 since March 2016.

Today's figures also show:
-The sickness absence rate for NHSScotland in 2016/17 was 5.20 per cent, up from 5.16 per cent in 2015/16.
-NHSScotland spent a total of £166.5 million on nursing and midwifery bank and agency staff during the latest financial year, an increase of £8.4 million (5.3 per cent) compared to 2015/16. 

Alison Johnstone, Health spokesperson for the Scottish Greens and MSP for Lothian, said:

"NHS staff are under huge pressures and the Scottish Government is simply not acting quickly enough. Behind this rise in consultant, nursing and midwifery vacancies are staff struggling to provide the care they want to give. Overstretching our NHS workforce may explain the increase in the absence rate. Filling these vacancies is a priority if we want a healthy NHS workforce, in turn delivering the high quality health care people need.

"The rise in spending on agency staff shows more needs to be done to recruit NHS workers, so that we have a sustainable workforce meeting modern demands. With an ageing population, more complex health needs, and the challenges of poverty in our communities, it is vital that we give frontline health workers the support and stability they need.

"Added to that of course, many NHS staff from the EU are left feeling unwelcome and uncertain of their future because of Brexit. The long-term stability of our health service is being undermined by an illogical UK Government attitude."


NHSScotland Workforce Information (ISD Scotland)