Leader: ‘The service is surviving on staff goodwill’

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THE most startling statistic to come out of the latest NHS Lothian internal survey is not the two-thirds of employees warning about the impact of staff shortages.

The finding that should take us aback most is that nine out of ten are still willing to go the extra mile to make sure their patients get the service they deserve. That is truly remarkable.

Our National Health Service was founded on the principle of caring for the afflicted and that mission of service is clearly still alive and well in the city’s NHS workforce.

What is equally clear is that the health service is largely surviving on the goodwill of its staff.

The recruitment challenges which the health board are facing have been well documented. Similar issues are being experienced across Scotland, and further afield. The health board has shown itself willing to be imaginative and resourceful in trying to attract new employees from around the world. It clearly needs to redouble those efforts, however hard that will be.

But the responsibility does not rest with the health board alone. The Scottish Government has a role to play in ensuring that sufficient numbers of trainees are coming through the system in the right disciplines so as not to exacerbate the problem. Forward planning on this scale is not easy, but it is essential.

One of the problems at the root of attracting enough health workers to the Capital is the cost of housing. Family homes in the city in particular are prohibitively expensive for thousands of staff who do not enjoy the big salaries paid to doctors and consultants. So, the city council has a role to play in ensuring that more affordable housing is built in Edinburgh as soon as possible.

In the meantime, there is something that we as patients should do as well. Next time you see one of these remarkably dedicated health workers, remember to say thank you.