Is there a doctor in the house?

Wishaw General Hospital
Wishaw General Hospital

Lanarkshire’s health bosses were told this week they must look for help if they can’t sort out the staffing ‘crisis’ facing hospitals.

NHS Lanarkshire’s own figures have revealed 64 doctor, consultant and specialist posts are not filled with another 65 positions filled by locum - or temporary - staff.

The authority admits the emergency service at Wishaw General is at ‘very high’ risk as a result. Various non-emergency units at all three hospitals in the county - Wishaw, Monklands and Hairmyres - are said to be at ‘high’ risk because of under-staffing.

Motherwell and Wishaw MSP John Pentland said the figures - showing vacancies at July 31 this year - come after warnings about ‘precarious’ staffing levels were ignored previously.

He said: “This situation is unfair to hard-working but overstretched staff, and it is unfair to my constituents, who I am sure will be asking questions about the board and the chief executive’s failure to address the situation despite the warnings.

“NHS Lanarkshire has staggered from crisis to crisis which may be down to lack of resources, or management, or both. The board and chief executive need to consider seriously whether they should seek help to sort out the problems or let others take the wheel.”

NHS Lanarkshire attempted to play down fears and insisted the situation should pick up once a recruitment campaign bears fruit.

Dr Jane Burns, acute divisional medical director, said: “In the last few months we have been successful in recruiting to consultant vacancies in a number of areas including paediatrics, orthopaedics, anaesthetics, ophthalmology, care of the elderly, acute medicine, general surgery, breast surgery, urology and rheumatology.

“Although these posts have been filled, some individuals have still to start in post.

“Where vacancies remain, medical and managerial staff work closely to manage periods of peak activity in our hospitals and to fill any gaps in the rota to ensure we have the right combination of medical staff to deliver safe and effective care at all times.

“Where necessary, we use locum doctors who support our full time staff complement to provide continuity of service while we recruit.

“Approved additional investment will allow us to recruit additional medical consultants and we are currently undertaking a recruitment campaign to promote the vacancies available.”