A SENIOR MSP has raised questions over long-term planning at NHS Lothian following a huge influx of nurses.
The Evening News revealed last week that the health board had become the biggest recruiter of nurses and midwives in Scotland, boosting numbers by 500 in 2012-13.
Spending on agency nurses also more than doubled in the period, to £2.7 million, while employment of nurses brought in for one-off shifts from the staff bank also went up, with spending hitting £16.5m.
Jackson Carlaw, Conservative health spokesman, said: “Any increase in recruitment is welcome, but such an influx makes you wonder how terribly thin the staffing levels were prior to that.
“Bank and agency nurses have a role to play in plugging the odd gap, but for a health board to be spending so much on them seems to display an incredible lack of planning, either at local or Scotland-wide level.”
He added: “The SNP has to realise that when health boards are strapped for cash, as NHS Lothian appears to be, there will come a point where such emergency investments can simply no longer be afforded.”
NHS Lothian said it had embarked on the recruitment drive to increase the number of patients it could treat and would be continuing to hire more staff.
It is anticipated that nurses will continue to be used from agencies and the staff bank while vacancies are filled.