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Fears of NHS staff shortages in Scotland grow

27 Juillet 2017

In the report Caroline Gardner, Auditor General, said: "There are urgent workforce challenges facing the NHS and improving workforce planning is critical to addressing these pressures".

It said there were signs NHS services were "under increasing stress".

Health Secretary Shona Robison said the report acknowledged that NHS Scotland staffing levels were at a record high, and added: "We're committed to not only having the right number of staff, but also to ensure that we have the mix of skills in the right places".

Labour health spokesman Anas Sarwar said that the report is "absolutely damning". However, the report said it was not clear if the 500 ANPs will be new nurses or trained from existing nursing staff.

"The plan identifies the workforce challenges we specifically face as a board and how we are working with other NHS boards, including NHS Education for Scotland, the regions and the Scottish Government, to collectively understand and tackle workforce challenges and opportunities going forward".

The report, by Auditor General Caroline Gardner, said it was vital that the government and NHS bosses plan more effectively for the future.

Spending on agency staff has also more than doubled to £171.4 million in the past five years to deal with the impact of shortages. A spokeswoman said: "We take workforce planning very seriously and use it to understand and mitigate any challenges we may face in coming years".

She added its new staffing strategy shows how it will improve workforce planning.

"There are separate planning processes for recruiting doctors, nurses and other professional groups", said the report.

A failure to plan for the long-term future of the NHS in Scotland has led to a staffing "crisis" as the service struggles to recuit senior medics and nurses, a report by the public spending watchdog has found.

The report was welcomed by staff groups and unions.

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Unison Scotland's head of health, Matt McLaughlin, said that while more money might have been pumped in, it was "not always used in the right way or in the right place". For too long plans have been restricted by what is affordable and achievable with the staff available, rather than focusing on strategic, long-term planning to meet demand.

"The result is that Scotland has too few nursing staff in post and too few nurses being trained".

"Staff across NHS Scotland are under enormous, unrelenting pressure to meet ever-growing demand". "The significant workforce challenges set out in the report must be addressed robustly, realistically and rapidly if patients are to get the care that they need".

Ms Gardner warned in her report that NHS Scotland is in danger of not having enough health workers to meet demand.

She added: "The first part of our National Health and Social Care Workforce Plan, published last month, sets out how we will recruit, develop and retain the flexible, multidisciplinary workforce we need".

She said: "We've listened to Audit Scotland's comments about workforce planning well before they've produced this report".

"Time and again we have seen warnings about long-term workforce planning, and these figures show the situation is only getting worse".

Tory health spokesman Miles Briggs branded the research "deeply concerning".

"Agency costs are soaring, and the percentage of vacancies in consultancy and nursing posts have more than doubled". We continue to look at new and innovative ways to attract staff.

And Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said: "This damning audit rightly takes a dim view of Nicola Sturgeon and her health secretary's attempts to avert this crisis".

He said: "Staff morale is at rock bottom in the health service, with staff reporting there simply aren't enough of them to do the job properly".

Fears of NHS staff shortages in Scotland grow