Understaffed NHS insists nurses on way

Margaret Mitchell says more should be done to increase staffing levels at Monklands Hospital and elsewhere
Margaret Mitchell says more should be done to increase staffing levels at Monklands Hospital and elsewhere

Health bosses hope an influx of nurses next month will fend off criticism over unfilled vacancies in Lanarkshire hospitals.

Central Scotland MSP Margaret Mitchell said the latest figures show nursing and consultancy vacancies across the country are at record highs.

NHS Lanarkshire had 237 nursing posts lying vacant, including 56 that had been empty for more than three months.

The county had 37 consultant posts unfilled for more than six months, with a total of 64 vacancies at this level.

Tory Mrs Mitchell said the Scottish Government’s own figures revealed 8.2 per cent of operations in Scotland were cancelled last month, with a shortage of staff and resources often blamed.

NHS Lanarkshire said it has recruited consultants and nurses recently, but these don’t show up in the latest statistics.

Chief executive Calum Campbell said: “Although these posts have been filled, some individuals have still to start in post. This includes the 164 newly qualified nurses who will join us next month.

“We have the necessary funding to enable us to recruit to the vacant posts. However, there is a recognised UK shortage of qualified medical staff which makes it difficult to recruit to certain specialities.

“Where vacancies remain, clinical and managerial staff work closely to ensure we have the right combination of staff to deliver safe and effective care at all times. Where necessary, we use locum doctors who support our full time staff to provide continuity of service while we recruit.”

Mrs Mitchell called on the Government to do more to ensure there are enough new recruits. She said: “The Nationalist Government has been in charge of our NHS for more than a decade, but it has failed continually to ensure these crucial staff are in place and the figures show the situation is getting worse.

“Not having the right number of staff has a huge impact on the standard of care available to patients, and it places massive burdens on the staff who have to pick up the extra work.

“While any large organisation will have vacancies the sheer number of empty posts in the health service is of huge concern.”