Lothians MSP accuses health board of 'making excuses' as nursing posts remain unfilled
Health chiefs have been accused of of making ‘excuses’ over critical staff shortages after they confirmed the latest recruitment drive still leaves more than 300 nursing posts unfilled.
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NHS Lothian has confirmed it is recruiting a total of 422 nurses over the next two months, with 186 already started.
This leaves around forty six per cent of 750 vacant posts still unfilled, according to the latest figures from Public Health Scotland.
Bosses stressed that a range of measures was needed to mitigate unprecedented pressure, as problems with delayed discharge piles added pressure on stretched frontline services.
But Tory MSP Miles Briggs said delayed discharge was a ‘bogus argument’ and called for a more significant drive to address critical shortages.
It follows reports by the Evening News of a mounting crisis at the emergency department at Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary, which union bosses described as “bursting at the seams”, while patients are left on trolleys for hours.
Unison warned that patients attending the rammed emergency room were not getting the quality of care they deserve, due to severe staff and bed shortages.
Nursing and midwifery vacancies across Scotland have hit a record high and their union leaders have cited a ‘worrying rise’ in numbers off with work-related illness. Unison said the number of nurses in the Lothians who talked of ‘packing it in’ was a concern.
Mr Briggs said: “Getting boots on the ground is becoming more difficult. It’s now a systemic, long-term issue for NHS Lothian.
"It’s a bogus argument to say problems are down to delayed discharge. Edinburgh had the worst figures on that before the pandemic. Excuses are running thin from the health board and the Scottish Government now. There’s an urgent need for a recruitment drive – above and beyond what they have outlined.
"Many workers are burned out and want to leave so that’s a huge concern. More has to be done to retain dedicated staff we have, as well as recruit on bigger scale to make sure health care is at full complement of staff.”
Colin Poolman, Director, RCN Scotland said: "The current level of nursing vacancies is deeply worrying. More must be done to encourage our experienced nursing staff to stay and to ensure there is a robust plan to increase the future workforce to a sustainable level. The Scottish Government must fund a fair pay rise for nursing staff and fully implement the safe staffing legislation."
Professor Alex McMahon, Nurse Director, NHS Lothian, said: “NHS Lothian has implemented a range of measures to mitigate the unprecedented pressures currently being experienced across acute and community care.“As part of that, around 500 new nurses are expected to start over the next two months to boost patient care – they are made up of a mix of student, newly qualified and staff nurses.“So far 186 nurses have started work and over the next four weeks, we will welcome another 178 to our team. An additional 58 new staff nurses have taken up post and over the next month, they will be joined by a further 71 new members.“Extra admin and domestic support is also being enlisted to allow clinical staff the time they need to work with patients. They are being joined by an increased number of health support workers.”