More than 7,000 complaints about NHS staff levels in Scotland have been made in the last two years according to figures released by the Scottish Liberal Democrat Party.
Data released by the Scottish Liberal Democrat Party – acquired under the Freedom of Information Act – shows that 7,253 complaints about NHS staff levels have been made to management in the NHS Scotland – the majority of them coming from concerned healthcare professionals.
The data also shows that the number of vacancies for consultants has more than trebled in the past three years from 128 to 447.5; and, at the same time, the number of vacancies for nursing and midwifery positions had increased by more than a fifth from 1,865 to 2,256.
Liberal Democrat health spokesman Jim Hume used the figures as ammunition for an attack on his opponents in the Scottish National Party (SNP). He said: “These stark figures underline the pressure that NHS staff are under as a result of the failure of the SNP government to get to grips with the challenges facing our health service.”
However, SNP Health Secretary Shona Robison defended the political attack with some figures of her own. Ms Robinson said: “[The complaints about NHS staff levels] are critically important. Under this government, NHS staff numbers have risen by over 10,000, with more doctors and nurses now delivering care for the people of Scotland”.
Ms Robinson added: “We also have record high numbers of GPs – including the most GPs per head of the population in the UK. To give people the high quality healthcare they deserve, we are investing in and supporting a highly skilled NHS workforce. Over the past year alone, this includes an additional 600 nurses and midwives.”
Aside from the political arguments, the fact that there has been more than 7,000 complaints about NHS staff levels in Scotland is a major concern – particularly as the complaints are being made by employees concerned about safety issues in hospitals. When staffing levels are low, healthcare professionals are placed under more strain, meaning that mistakes are made with more frequency and patients suffer avoidable injuries or the unnecessary deterioration of an existing condition as a result.