NHS workers struggle to do jobs due to lack of staff

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More than two thirds of NHS Lothian workers feel unable to do their jobs properly due to a lack of staff, a damning survey has found.

Results of the NHS Scotland Staff Survey have laid bare the concerns of struggling workers, as just 30 per cent of 8791 Lothian respondents said they were happy with staffing levels and fewer than half felt they could cope with the conflicting demands of their work.

Despite the challenges, 90 per cent said they were happy to go the extra mile at work.

Union members have written to NHS Lothian’s chief executive Tim Davison to raise their concerns over the spiralling staff shortages, which are reaching “crisis point” within operating theatres and teams of health visitors.

Tom Waterson, Lothian branch coordinator for Unison, said: “The staff survey highlights the acute problems of recruitment that we are having across the NHS.

“We have been saying for a number of years that we are going to hit crisis point if this isn’t sorted out and I think we are about there.

“It is the fault of this board and of previous incumbents for not coming up with a proper plan. It is not fair on committed staff, who are doing extra hours to cover gaps in the rota.”

Rising patient demand and lack of capacity were compounding the problem, said Dr Peter Bennie, chair of British Medical Association (BMA) Scotland.

He added: “The fact that only a third of respondents think there are enough NHS staff working for them to do their job properly reflects the fact that too many medical posts are still going unfilled in Scotland.

“Every vacant medical post puts additional strain on staff who have to attempt to plug the gaps in service. That is why the significant problems in recruiting and retaining doctors in Scotland needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

And Labour public services spokesman Dr Richard Simpson, a former GP and psychiatrist, said: “These are people who have dedicated their careers to caring for others and saving lives. The very least we can deliver is the resources for them to do their jobs properly.”

Health Secretary Shona Robison said staffing numbers within the NHS are at record levels and the Scottish Government had invested in increasing student nursing and midwifery intakes.

Melanie Johnson, nurse director at NHS Lothian said: “NHS Lothian employs the highest number of clinical staff of all the major health boards in Scotland.

“We also have the lowest proportion of administrative staff compared to all other Scottish health boards. We continue to follow national guidance to ensure appropriate staffing levels to provide safe, effective, patient-centred care.”

lizzy.buchan@edinburghnews.com

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